updated 02:35 pm EDT, Fri September 22, 2006
Cringely iTV Commentary
Questions persist about the features of the iTV and their uses. Particularly mysterious amongst these is the USB port mentioned only briefly in Steve Jobs' presentation on September 12th. Practical reasoning would dictate that the port is for simplified video chat through a USB camera, writes PBS' Robert Cringely. Noting that the iTV does not need extra hard drive space because of its dependence on networked computers, Cringely observes that Apple's new media hub is ideally suited as a simple, low-cost alternative to using a full-fledged computer for video conferencing. "It's iChat for Grandma," he says. Apple would also be able to replicate the enhanced iChat features of MacOS X Leopard by letting iTV owners display photos and videos when speaking with others. Cringely further speculates that video chat functions could be used to extend and sell more of Apple's peripherals, including .Mac and future iSight cameras. Click through for the Electronista perspective on the story.
The Electronista perspective: while a viable concept, Cringely's explanation for the USB port does not account for the interface or other uses besides video chat or external storage. The current iTV controls are based heavily on Front Row and would require a vastly simplified contact list without an easy means of entering account information, making it impractical to use without an existing computer. More importantly, the iPod is almost certainly an integral component of Apple's strategy; Apple will likely encourage users to attach their iPods directly to the iTV when at a friend's home or when the host computer is turned off. While a USB camera for video chat remains a possibility, it may not be the primary focus of the open port.