Smart device overkill

I own a smart TV. Among other things, I can use it to connect to Netflix, with no other device needed.

I also have a smart Blu-ray player. It too includes an option to select Netflix, as well as a small assortment of other “channels.”

Lastly, I have an Apple TV. As you probably already know, I can choose to watch Netflix from this device as well.

I have absolutely no need for three different ways to stream video from Netflix. One is definitely sufficient. [I’m not even going to go into the fact that I can also watch Netflix on my Mac, iPad and iPhone.]

Currently, the Apple TV is my preferred choice. This is because, of the three devices, it has the most feature-filled and easiest-to-navigate interface. I also stay exclusively with Apple TV because it is the device I use for channels, such as HBO GO, that are not available on the other two devices. Apple TV is also the only device that gives me access to my iTunes library and offers AirPlay. Case closed.

Essentially, if my television and Blu-ray player magically became dumb devices overnight, it would not matter to me one whit.

This is the dilemma that is facing the makers of these smart devices. The market is currently suffering from an overdose of overlapping devices. It’s especially tricky for television makers (see this Macworld article for related insight). No matter how smart televisions become, it won’t matter to their sales if people like me still prefer to use Apple TV instead. At the same time, Apple needs to worry that, if they don’t update the Apple TV sufficiently, people like me may yet abandon it in favor of improved and expanded features on televisions.

In the end, there may remain room for more than one choice to be retained and stay profitable. For example, those on a tighter budget might stick with their television alone (as this doesn’t require an additional purchase) while those with more disposable income go for an Apple TV or Roku.

Regardless, the current mishmosh is not sustainable. There will be winners and losers. The losers will gradually vanish from the landscape. I already anticipate this happening with smart Blu-ray players, maybe even with optical disc players altogether. Who will emerge as dominant in the battle between televisions vs. Apple TV/Roku devices remains to be seen. However, I expect that new hardware coming later this year will go a long way to determining which way the ball will bounce. Personally, I’m still hoping for a much improved Apple TV to win the day. But it’s far from certain that this will happen. Game on.

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