Time was, you’d buy a TV, bring it home and plant it in your living room. And you’d watch it. For like a decade. And then, when the picture started failing, you’d go and buy another and do it all over again.
Nowadays, television is more than a piece of furniture, it’s an experience. It’s multi-sourced, time-shifted, narrow-casted, and/or delivered on-demand. Digital, in short. Like all experiences in the digital age, television now requires the support of a full complement of systems — a peripheral army of boxes, wires and software — to make it happen. You can’t experience digital television, really, with just one of anything.
This is why, I think, I’m an unlikely customer for Apple TV, Steve Jobs’ set-top contender in the living room war. To be honest, the couch potato in me is intrigued by its ability to access Internet video, which I’m sure I’d watch more of it were made as convenient as Apple TV promises. And last week’s announcement that Apple would rent movies on demand through the device, too, is intriguing.
But I just can’t imagine myself buying one anytime soon. It’s not only that I would be adding another box to my living room (though I’m certainly not eager to take on that added complexity), it’s also how much the digital television experience demands of us.