What the Apple TV Needs to No Longer Be A Hobby

I'm a little confused.Remember back when Apple first introduced the Apple TV, and the company said that it was designed to be a hobby device? Well, in 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, after unveiling a new version of the device, said it was no longer a hobby. Now, though, it appears it is again, since Apple's new CEO Tim Cook said earlier this week that the device is still — wait for it — a hobby.

I'm sure there are some out there that would disagree with Cook and say that the Apple TV is a full-featured device that shouldn't be classified as a hobby. And I'm sure they might be able to make that argument quite effectively.

But I'm here to tell those folks, and all those that aren't quite sure if the Apple TV is a hobby or not, that it is, in fact, a hobby.

Luckily, though, I have some solutions for addressing that problem.

First and foremost, Apple should stop playing the streaming-only game with the Apple TV. As much as Apple might not want to admit it, today's consumers still need local storage. We want to be able to put movies on the device, access games, and have ready access to our content whenever the Internet is down in our homes. The Internet is great and all, but there's still something to be said for offline access.

What's more, Apple should be bringing App Store support to the device. Apps have become a key reason we buy iPhones and iPads, and to not have access to it on a device that connects to a television — a place many people are using sub-par applications right now — is a real issue.

That idea dovetails on my next point: if Apple wants to make the Apple TV a serious device, it'll need to take down Google TV.

[aquote]Call me crazy, but Google TV might have a shot this year[/aquote]

At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, a host of vendors showed off products featuring Google TV. The service will be bundled in televisions and other products, and most importantly, feature applications people want to use. Call me crazy, but I think Google TV might actually have a shot this year. And if it succeeds, Apple's hobby will be pushed aside.

Finally, Apple needs to realize that gaming is an integral component in the success or failure of set-top boxes today. Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 are popular not only for their gaming, but for their additional content. Apple has all that additional content, but lacks the gaming.

Luckily for Apple, it wouldn't necessarily need to go too far with bringing gaming to the Apple TV. I don't think the mainstream consumer wants Modern Warfare 3-like graphics on an Apple TV, and would instead be content with playing the casual titles they already access on their iPhones and iPads. Even better, the iPhone and iPad could be used as a controller, which means Apple wouldn't need to invest in additional accessories.

It's about time Apple removes the Apple TV from the hobby box and brings it into the living room to be a serious competitor to all the other solutions out there. By doing so, Apple could go a long way in proving it has what it takes to be successful in yet another market.