AirPlay and apps will set iTV apart, says Brightcove CEO

Brightcove founder, chairman and CEO Jeremy Allaire shares some interesting observations regarding Apple’s rumored full-blown television set that the industry is anxiously anticipating.

The biggest feature and key differentiating factor won’t be the display nor industrial design for that matter. Instead, the iTV should be treated as yet another screen to run the enhanced iOS computing platform. Content?

Don’t count on Apple beating cable companies to the programming punch. Instead, Allaire observes, the more than 500,000 apps and AirPlay technology are Apple’s two key advantages that will help set iTV apart…

As you know, analysts are expecting an Apple television set announcement by the end of 2012, with general availability six months later. Apple is allegedly assembling iTV prototypes as we speak and readying a much improved software to drive the box. The device is said to be a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’.

Brightcove CEO expects at some point in time an HD TV set from Apple as well as a new version of the Apple TV puck, both sporting features such as “new camera and microphone, motion detection and speech recognition”.

The newApple TV will be “1 inch tall and 3 inches wide, that can easily mount to the top of almost any existing HD capable TV set” and the full-blown television set will be “gorgeous and include the latest innovations in display technology, and will sell at a premium price that ensures a reasonable gross margin for Apple”.

Finally, new APIs will encourage developers to write apps optimized for the Apple TV platform and taking advantage of dual-screen features and motion user interaction, among other things.

But hardware is really a secondary piece to this puzzle, Allaire observes, via AllThingsD:

Not to beat a dead horse here, but Apple will not, at least right now, re-invent the pricing and packaging and user experience of long-form cable and broadcast TV content, at least not much beyond the iTunes store.

In fact, if anything, Apple will recognize that a deeper alliance with TV operators is inevitable (to build on their EPG, VOD and Network DVR APIs), and will push further into providing support for TV Everywhere authentication services in iOS, and evangelize broadcast brands to launch TV Apps for their networks and shows that take advantage of the NG Apple TV model described above.

Matter of fact, Apple will partner with the existing incumbents, he says:

Further, they may seek alliances with the likes of Comcast to launch pure-play over the top (OTT) editions of products like XFinity as TV apps. But it won’t matter, because with Apple TV, cable content is just an app. What matters is that soon potentially tens of millions of HD capable monitors will become a screen for the hundreds of thousands of apps running on devices that are already in your hands.

Allaire is basically piggy-backing on John Gruber’s pieces which first pointed out that apps are the new channels.

So, instead of trying to beat cable companies at their own game by signing exclusive agreements with content owners, Apple should just let them serve their programming to the Apple television through their own apps. Basically, cable television on the iTV “will just be an app among what will be tens and then hundreds of thousands of apps on your Apple TV”.

And if Apple seeks partnerships with the top cable companies and if they open up their APIs for their EPG, VOD libraries and Network DVR infrastructure, you’d basically “purchase and use an Apple TV device and use it in concert with an existing subscription from a TV operator, and access the TV functionality as an app”.

Makes sense, no?