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6/3/2010
10:59 AM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Is Steve Jobs Blowing Smoke About Apple TV?

An astute Apple observer dissects Jobs' public comments about Apple TV and offers this conclusion: "Steve Jobs Gets It Wrong."

If Apple gets into the TV business, the repercussions are likely to be enormous. For consumers, it'll mean more choices and more control over what they watch and when they watch it and how they watch it; and for businesses in and around the TV industry, it'll mean that they might be wiped out or they might get accelerated to warp speed—but they surely will not emerge unchanged.

Set-top boxes, cable companies, input devices, mobile TV, DVRs, YouTube, iTunes, big screens and small screens, plus the seamless syncopation across all of those things and the apparently insatiable human demand for video content: these are just some of the chess pieces Jobs is moving around in his head as he decides on the optimal approach for Apple to extend into the TV realm its wildly successful franchise of iPods, iPhones, iTunes, and iPads.

But investor and author Jason Schwarz, whose analyses of Apple and Jobs have been wonderfully astute for the past couple of years, contends that Jobs' public comments about Apple TV at the recent D8 conference reveal that the company still hasn't figured it all out yet. (Or, as Schwarz speculates, it just might be that Steve Jobs was deliberately ambiguous and tossed a few red and pickled herrings out to help keep Apple's secrets secret.)

It's a fascinating subject for CIOs because while it can be said that Apple makes little or no effort to market to the enterprise, it surely must be said that Apple's products and technologies and impact are having a profound impact on enterprise IT and how it sees itself and how it views its interactions with colleagues and customers.

Take iTunes and the App Store—now we have big industrial-strength companies like SAP creating similar exchanges/communities/commerce hubs for their customers and developers and partners, and each of those stakeholders gains enormous value as a result of a bigger and more-open playing field.

Or how about corporate video—with companies looking to enhance collaborative efforts, improve training and communication, and cut down on travel expenses, the iPhone (heck, call it an iCamera) is becoming indispensable.

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Or tablets and their potential, which at bare minimum nudge even non-adopters into considering life beyond the traditional PC: matching the right tool with the right applications for our increasingly interactive but specialized responsibilities.

So let's take a look at three bones Schwarz chose to pick with Jobs' public comments about Apple TV: first on set-top boxes; then on partnerships with cable companies; and then on whether Apple is serious about doing the TV thing or just wants to chat about it. For each of those three, I've pulled out some pithy excerpts from Schwarz's excellent post:

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