Tuned In


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The Apple announcement of its iPhone came today, and was characteristically heralded by TV news with the fanfare reserved for terror alerts and cellphone video of dead dictators or live celebrities. (I’ll leave it to my pal Lev Grossman to explain the details, but apparently you can speak to people on it, even if they are not physically in the room with you. This is a game-changer, folks.)

I’m continually impressed with Apple’s ability to generate free advertising disguised as news. As CNN interrupted its newscast to report the announcement of Steve Jobs’ amazing distance-talking machine, a tech reporter declared that "When [Apple] introduces a new technology, it’s not only stylish, it’s also easy to use… not just lifestyle but life-changing for a lot of people." When Apple has news to announce, reporters have a way of turning into iPorters.

Overshadowed by the iPhone was the newly announced Apple TV, which, roughly described, is an attractive white box that zaps video from your TV to your computer. I’m not sure if this quite qualifies as a revolution, though if it will allow me to see Monkey Washing a Cat as it was meant to be seen, so much the better.

Unfortunately, though, it marked another year in which Apple has not gotten into the DVR business, as I and other videophiles have hoped. The plausible explanation is that TiVo already has the glamor product in the field, and Apple doesn’t like to enter markets where it can’t be the coolest. On the other hand, as Lev writes, Apple likes to fix products that are broken–which certainly describes the non-TiVo DVRs from cable companies more consumers are using–and even TiVophiles like myself are perpetually worried that the company may not be long for this world.

I’m sure there are ways of jerryrigging Apple TV into a pseudo TiVo device as some have done with the Mac Mini; but most people buy Apple for plug-and-play convenience, not to become hobbyists. Here’s hoping that after the phone, Steve Jobs sets his eye on the next household appliance that needs fixing.