Revolutionary: Apple TV Could Be for Places, Not Just People


Just like iPads are for places, not people, there’s potentially more to Apple TV than meets the eye. And yes, it all hinges on the availability of apps and iAds on the Apple TV. As the world ponders what will be the killer app for the Apple TV, think for a moment about terminals that display live data for hotels, conferences, and mass transit meeting places like airports, bus and train stations.

These locations have all transitioned away from print and toward live, self-updating kiosks. Call centers, data centers, offices and various places of employment are likewise headed the same way. Just like iPhones and iPod touches can be used for point-of-sale (POS) transactions, iOS can also help Apple TVs replace the extremely outdated Windows in the realm of the commercial display.

Blue Screens of Death Everywhere

I found it funny back in June when each morning I was greeted by a blue screen of death (BSoD) in my hotel’s elevator as I made my way to WWDC. The same iOS technology I was learning about at WWDC could potentially replace all of the BSoDs worldwide by the time I return to San Francisco for WWDC 2011.

It’s likely that firms that sell kiosk solutions are littered with Microsoft and Adobe developers able to crank out media-rich, web-like ads that appeal to investors. The problem is, the technologies used to create such content are in desperate need of being overhauled, and neither Microsoft nor Adobe are in any position to do so.

Apple TV Is to Kiosk as iPad Is to Netbook

Pairing a relatively inexpensive $99 appliance in a custom housing with a cheap flat panel display drastically lowers costs, as there’s no longer a need for a full-featured PC or Mac. It wouldn’t be terribly hard to set up the Apple TV to launch a single app that would in turn use the device’s network connection retrieve data.  It could pull down data regarding weather, sports, news, video, music, etc.

An enterprise could even create home-grown apps for ad-hoc distribution that could be used internally to share the latest sales numbers, call volumes, project status or even metrics on code repositories and data center availability. In meeting rooms, each participant could take control of the shared display as they AirPlay content to the Apple TV.

Yet Another iAd Outlet for Apple

Great idea, but how is Apple going to profit by it?  By extending its iAd presence even further. Investors can add iAds to kiosks in an effort to generate a little revenue for both themselves and, consequently, Apple. Kiosks could be location aware in order to help drive which types of ads would be shown.  The challenge would be feedback. If Apple enabled sharing of iAds across iOS devices when someone sees one they like, it would go a long way toward providing meaningful metrics to advertisers.

Bump Your Kiosk to Tweet Your Preference

To make it truly relevant to tomorrow’s market, this scheme should have a social angle. While not all kiosk content would benefit from sharing via AirPlay, there are other opportunities for social interaction. If an iAd catches your attention, just “bump” (via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection) the kiosk to remember what you found interesting. Each kiosk would keep track of who bumped it, and display iAds that individuals that frequent that location are more likely to take an interest in.

While the press and the entertainment industry are looking for a revolution in television, Apple could quietly and quickly swoop in and take over the kiosk market, placing an iOS device if not  in the hands of, at least within 100 yards of every consumer on the planet.

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