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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Will we see a gaming television soon?

2013 is supposed to be the year we hear about the new Sony Playstation 4, a new version of the Microsoft XBox and possibly an Apple television.  While the first two are supposedly ready to take gaming to the next level, the real surprise could come from the latter possibly.

We've all heard about what Apple wants to revolutionize television and from whatever tidbits of information we heard from Steve Jobs in the past or from Tim Cook comments since he took over as Apple CEO, how they plan to go about doing this isn't clear.

Steve Jobs when speaking at the All Things D conference in 2010 spoke about the bottleneck in television being in the way content was being distributed.  He took a dig at the set top boxes that we have in our homes saying that this is where the problem lies for television as this was holding back innovation in the television industry (I highly recommend watching Jobs talk about this in this video link).  Apple has time and time again shown that they look at each product holistically and it is not about designing a piece of hardware or software but completing all the parts of the jigsaw that define that experience.  This has been their achilles heel in the television industry till now but it is also about understanding what do you use your television for these days.

Anyone remember Snakes on Nokia
mobile phones back in the day?
I then came across an article in TechCrunch this weekend then that made me re-think where Apple may be going with their television project.  By introducing the Apple AppStore, game developers suddenly found themselves with millions of more customers that they never had to access to earlier.  Gaming had moved from consoles, handheld devices, PC's and mobile phones to iPods, iPhones, iPads and the Mac.  Platforms like Android, Windows 8 and Blackberry OS have tried to replicate this formula but where all of them have struggled has been how do you move that experience to the best screen in your house to enjoy it on, which is your television screen.

The fact is, not everyone is going to buy a console.  As great a job that Microsoft does in selling consoles and introducing us to gesture based gaming like they did with the Kinect, not everyone needs a console for their day to use.  Both console manufacturers have played up the fact that they see their products as entertainment devices but it is ultimately an entertainment device that ultimately is used for gaming.

Apple could potentially be approaching it from the other side and release an entertainment television that also supports gaming.  The problem that Apple has spoken of with content distribution isn't as much a problem when it comes to gaming as a lot of this has largely moved to cloud-based or AppStore based models.  The same is also starting to happen now with a lot of the other entertainment content that Apple sells on iTunes but the gaming industry is probably the easiest to target at this stage on a global level.

Sony for their part could and should be on top of this.  They've got the television and gaming experience in-house but unfortunately this experience has struggled to move beyond the silo's that Sony has housed them in.

I'm glad to see that Sony will have a new PlayStation being announced on February 20th but would've happier to see them introduce a PlayStation Bravia television that completely knocks our socks off.  That would've seen them change industries in one go and differentiate themselves from Microsoft and Samsung.  It would've seen them find a way to make you spend or upgrade your television more often by introducing newer, sleeker, quicker versions of the PlayStation Bravia television.  It could've seen them raise their price points and do something that no other television manufacturer could do today.  Instead, it's let dreamers like me imagine that Apple would be the one to do this and hopefully 2013 is the year it happens in.

Posted by: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics LLC