What can Apple learn from Voom’s failure?

apple_tvAs some of you may know I have been enjoying Voom’s Satellite service for almost seven months now. It was/is hands down the best satellite service I’ve seen, and working in the custom audio/video field I’ve seen them all. But with Voom selling off their assets to Echostar and ultimately closing shop, what does this mean for ‘ahead of their time’ tech services? Voom obviously had bandwidth in the sky well before enough HDTV owners wanted that bandwidth in their living rooms. How can this be with some 6 million hi-def sets sold last holiday season alone? Simple, retailers have a long history of pushing product without fully explaining how to get the most out of that product. Specifically you actually need to subscribe to either HDTV cable or satellite if you want to get the most out of your new HDTV, crazy concept.

What does all of this have to do with Apple? The long rumored and just as often denied ‘Apple Media Center’. Apple has been smart to (so far at least) stay out of the living room, but that may change soon. Sure Apple could have introduced a Media Center/DVR months or years ago, but with TiVo (at the time) still the king of the hill and HTPC’s still struggling to shed their image as a DIY hobbyist ‘toys’, the timing just wasn’t right. But will that time ever come for Apple? That’s a question I’m still trying to work out for myself. One could argue with the Satellite world going through its MPEG-4 transition and only a handful of hi-def cable boxes actually having active FireWire outputs, now wouldn’t be the time. And Apple has already indicated a reluctance to enter the living room, taking a ‘people want passive entertainment’ stance.

On the other side of the coin however, with the success of iTunes, TiVo and broadband cable TV, you could argue that there has never been a better time. A company like Apple could obviously design and engineer an excellent home media center device, but would enough buyers get on board to make it worth their while? I guess to coin an Apple term “It would need a killer app”. Consumers would have to see value in such a product, especially if they felt they could get it elsewhere, from cheaper more readily available PC based sources. This is pretty much where Voom faltered. Yes they offered more HD satellite than any other provider, but in the end there were other sources that offered much of that same programming, and to a more established customer base to boot.

I can’t say what that ‘Killer App’ would be for consumers’ at large, maybe net-workable PVR functions. But just keeping windows and its malware nuisances out of my living room, would be all I needed to embrace an Apple home entertainment solution. My living room is the one place on earth I know that 99.9% of the time I can relax and unwind. I don’t want to be in there cleaning out cookies and scanning for the source of never ending pop-up ads. How about you? What single function or application could Apple offer to your home entertainment that would be impossible to resist?


Always — Free ground shipping with orders over $50 at the Apple Store.

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