Well, I initially wanted to sit down and talk about Conan O’Brien’s announcement this week of a new Web series called “Serious Jibber-Jabber” that looks to be interesting if only because of the ambiguity that seems to be going into its announcement. Is hereally going to talk with smart, interesting people about smart, interesting things for a long, interesting time? Or is this just going to be an extension of his TBS talk show as he goofs around with semi-interesting people, never touching on even semi-interesting things for what always ends up to be a short amount of time? “He stole the set from Charlie Rose” is its tagline, yet the line beneath the preview reads “This September, Conan O’Brien talks for a long time with interesting people.”
Then I considered waiting until tomorrow to write because tonight is … wait for it … MTV’s Video Music Awards, and you may (not) remember last year, when I offered up a reflection on the trophy show, much like I have for the past five installments. But then I got wrapped up in the most previous season of “Dexter” on DVD and I literally can’t stop watching it. So … well … it may be a few days before I actually get around to properly sitting down with the ceremony online to give it my full attention. Because honestly, friends, someone needs to give Mos Def an Emmy this very second.
So, here we are, left with the one big revelation this week in Internet television news that is impossible to ignore, despite how annoying the will they/won’t they has become. Take it away, Adam Satariano and Alex Sherman from Bloomberg …
“Apple is vying with the likes of Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. to make TVs the digital hub of people’s lives in an industry projected to reach $200 billion worldwide by 2017,” they wrote early Thursday.“Whoever wins must first strike deals with media companies or cable providers who have little incentive to cede valuable revenue streams. The result: Apple won’t be releasing a new TV product this year, as analysts had predicted, said a person familiar with the company’s plans.”
It’s true — the movement toward an Apple TV has seemingly blowed up real good over the past few weeks. As the writers point out, developers are having a problem with what would be the device’s screen interface and how it would look to us common folk. The company also can’t decide if it wants to lease the product to cable providers or let all of us common folk do all the deciding ourselves (because only we know how long we can stand a Ryan Seacrest-produced reality show before we start throwing our heads through a wall).
The problem, of course, is that Steve Jobs was never able to schmooze the cable providers/networks into buying into his product. Book publishers and music labels, TV people are not (just ask CBS’s Les Moonves, who has been oddly vocal about his continuous denials to Apple and its suits lately). None of this is particularly surprising news, though the notion that the power is dead on the light switch that was Apple’s intention to release a proper non-tiny-box television system to the masses this year is almost a bit shocking. Rarely does the Big White Machine not come through on its intentions to take over any world it wants. That’s why this whole admitting defeat thing doesn’t just appear striking, but it also comes across as somewhat of a blow to the future of Internet TV.
But how hard is that blow?
“Media companies want the data, cable companies want everything to never change,” Tuaw’s Victor Agreda, Jr. wrote a couple hours ago. “Thus, the two key holders to the kingdom — a kingdom which is merely a better user experience — are blocking Apple’s route. Besides the cash reserves and a series of hot consumer products (Apple TV isn’t one of them), Apple doesn’t have much in the way of power-ups to defeat these bosses.”
And as Satariano and Sherman point out, the road to Apple’s television domination won’t be nearly as seamless or easy as its road to … well … anywhere else it ever wanted to go.
“This battle is nothing like Apple’s previous forays into the music and mobile phone spheres, when the maker of iPods and iPhones negotiated with weakened record labels and a fractured wireless industry,” they wrote. “Now the stakes are even higher and the competition tougher.”
Touché, Tim Cook says as he strokes a black cat in a black leather chair in some black-colored room in California. Where this leaves the state of Apple TV, moving forward, is, of course, impossible to predict. With rumors floating that a new iPhone and a new iPad are about 18 seconds from hitting the shelves, though, one has to wonder what Apple’s next step will be, and if it will be able to get itself off the canvas after taking a few punches to the chin.
Back to the drawing board it is. How many dry-erase markers it may take to complete the picture, though, is a question some Apple execs might not feel like dealing with after all this news. Oh, if only Conan knew how to make Web TVs …