Remember the Christmas Radio Times? I couldn’t wait to sit down with the Yellow Pages-weight tome and highlight my holiday viewing in black marker, arguing with my brother over scheduling clashes.
Well I might as well be 100 years old as we hurtle toward Xmas 2010. The many ways we consume visual content have been converging for years but it seems the race to be the mainstream standard for linking mobile, web and owned content into the living room is now well underway.
The slim-lined, re-designed Apple TV is released later this month, and at £99 is going to have a far bigger presence than it’s predecessor. Apart from the ability to rent and stream content from iTunes, the real joy is in AirPlay. AirPlay will be native on all Apple devices and allow streaming of video content via the Apple TV to your big telly. That means sitting on your sofa, surfing web video on your iDevice of choice and being able to merrily beam ‘Being A Dickhead’s Cool’ to your 40” flatscreen. Magic.
But Apple is not the only one coming to market by a long shot (in fact they seem to have been so caught up with content providers that although not behind, they’re just not so far out in front as to make it seem a little so).
Boxee are hot on Cupertino’s heals with the £199 Boxee Box. Twice the price gets you an App store bringing BBC, CNN, Channel 4, MTV Music, Comedy Central, Facebook, mySpaceTV, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa and Last.fm to the show from launch, and a HTML5 browser, designed for use on a TV. Super.
Meanwhile, Project Canvas, from the big guns of traditional British Broadcasting is now YouView. Now, apart from the stupid name (which surely is a give-away that no one under 25, hell, 35, was in the room when they made the decision) it could yet prove to be very interesting. It’s a Freeview Box+ really, all UK TV channels, catch-up and recording. And Apps. It’s ‘coming 2011’. Hmmm.
Add Google TV to the equation, a TV optimised operating system based around their Chrome browser and web apps (rumoured for an October release) and we’ve got a good few choices for a converged TV Christmas.
More here soon then about how all this might inform our notions of media production and consumption, black markers and the Radio Times…