Apple TV: 5 Ways to Not Fail

Apple story updated with analyst comments and Apple TV forecast.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL) has climbed and conquered some big hills in tech, but if there's still a Mount Everest out there in consumer electronics, it has to be TV.

Earlier this summer at the AllThingsDigital conference, Steve Jobs talked about his company's failed attempts at bringing Apple TV to the masses: "The only way that's going to change is if you tear up the set top box, give it a new UI, and get it in front of consumers in a way they're going to want it," Jobs said.
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It sounded to us like Jobs was gearing up for a new battle. And as rumors surfaced last week that Apple will hold some type of press or launch event in September, we're wondering if it has to do with Apple's continued foray into the living room.

Earlier today, a PiperJaffray analyst said that Apple will enter the internet TV market in 2012. "We continue to believe that Apple is well-positioned to enter the television market with a connected HDTV in the next 2-4 years along with full content services," said analyst Gene Munster in a note. "Apple has recently developed a data center in Maiden, N.C. that we believe could serve at the hub of a cloud-based service for iTunes video."

Munster said that television could add 3% to Apple's revenue in 2012 and 7% to 2013.

To that end, we'd like to reiterate some suggestions that Apple has no doubt considered in its bold reattack on TV.

No. 5 The box isn't the problem

Steve Jobs is wrong about people not wanting to buy another box. People just want the right box. A set-top box is a computer that runs applications to manage your viewing. TV programming is a jumble of information. Throw in DVR features and the Internet, and you have a very complex system to control.

Apple is, at its core, a computer maker. You know that all this fuss about the failure of the box is just a set up for a better box. What Apple needs to do: Make a box good enough to allow people to stop caring about the box.

No. 4 The remote

Here's where Apple should really make its mark. In tech, a better mousetrap starts with software. A simple, intuitive application inside a special touchscreen device -- or even the iPhone or iPod Touch -- would blow all other remotes right off the coffee table.

Take a clue from Nintendo's Wii remote. Let people swipe, pinch and swivel their hands to hunt for programs and control the TV. How cool would channel changing be if you could just flick your wrist or pull a toy trigger?
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No. 3 Lose the grid

Cable giant Cox worked with designers and programmers for more than two years before it unveiled last month a revolutionary new TV programming interface. The big breakthrough: Trio, a three grid panel instead of one. Just what befuddled TV viewers need -- even more up-down, left-right scrolling to work their way through before finding a program.

Grids are good for some things, like prison cell blocks, big city streets and spread sheets. Who doesn't love a kicking back on a Saturday night with some smoking hot Excel files?

Programming grids are the TV industry's cigarettes. Bad for your viewing health and seemingly impossible to kick.

No.2 Make TV work for us

Why do we have to work for the TV? We are the fat lazy ones in this relationship. Why do people have to learn so much about programing guides, remote buttons and HDMI 3 settings? If cars can remember their drivers, why can't TVs remember their viewers?

Here's a classic scenario -- the standoff between human and machine, a person standing in front of the TV like a gunslinger in a dusty Western town. That pose should tell the TV that this person is gunning for something. Why not let history be a guide? Give the viewer some of the options they chose last time they stood like that. A semi-astute TV would offer quick service categories like news, weather and sports. It would also show favorite channels, recent channels and a search box all in thumbnail-sized screens as easy targets to hit with that cool new remote.

Scenario two: Person B goes to her favorite chair. TV senses this and, aware of the time of day, immediately tunes in the show person B usually watches, adjusting the volume to the desired level. Additionally, on the screen there could be a 5-day weather widget and a list of recordings on the DVR.

No.1 Entertain us!

If an overworked, over-fed house member grabs the remote and reclines luxuriously on the couch, it's TV's time to snap to action. Knowing the lounging royalty's fine tastes in video, the TV should prepare a select roster of suggested viewings. Hey, if Pandora can fashion music playlists based on one song choice, surely TV can match its mighty master with some enjoyable programming.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.