In a recent interview with Mashable, I was asked, “What’s your favorite Apple product?” Jenn didn’t publish that part of the interview, but she did tweet my answer: AppleTV. And I got a bunch of replies from people who probably thought I was crazy.
Obviously I love my iPhone. My MacBook Air is the best laptop I’ve ever owned. And Lion was the biggest (and riskiest) OS leap Apple has made, and they nailed it.
But AppleTV has a special place in my heart. And I think it deserves more credit. Here’s why the AppleTV is my favorite Apple product today:
Features – The first version of the AppleTV was a failure. In the second version, Apple CUT features. They made it simpler. They made it do less. They won by making the experience better, not by adding features.
- I love watching Netflix, listening to my music, and renting HD movies. These are the obvious features.
- AirPlay is magic. Streaming photos, videos, Youtube, Pandora, and soon games from my iPhone or iPad wirelessly to my TV is incredible. This is the future.
- The screensaver on my TV is a photo slideshow from Aperture. Right now it’s all photos of Kate (using face detection). This makes me happy.
Disruptive – The Mac is a better computer. The iPhone is a better phone. iPods are better mp3 players. But the AppleTV is not an improvement on any previous device or service. Together with iTunes, AppleTV is an entirely new kind of product.
- AppleTV brings digital media to normal people. It merges technology with my physical world in a very simple way.
- AppleTV (via the iTunes store) promotes paying for media. I’ve never believed in stealing music or other content, but for a while stealing was a better experience than buying. I’m glad Apple turned that around.
- I can watch media on my TV. I don’t want to watch movies on a laptop screen. Music shouldn’t be played on computer speakers. I (and other normal people) want to sit on a comfortable sofa and watch a television. Nerds like projectors because they think bigger is better. It’s not.
- AppleTV has the potential to disrupt media distribution like nothing else out there. I can imagine moving away from Time Warner in favor of a 100% on demand content service.
Underdog – I like rooting for the underdog. It’s not one of the successful Apple products, but I think it has a ton of potential.
Fifteen years ago, I was trying to convince my friends to buy Macs. Ten years ago: iPods. Four years ago: iPhones. And today: AppleTV. It’s a device I use every day, and I love it. My laptop is for work. My iPhone is for work. But my AppleTV is for fun. It’s when I decompress.
And at $99, it’s the most approachable Apple product out there.