The Trouble with Apple TV ... and iPhone

Brent Schlender, Fortune editor-at-large, thinks Apple TV is so Zune-like. He said,

"In fact, the Apple TV is so Zune-like, you'd think Jobs was so busy with the iPhone that he outsourced the Apple TV project to the folks up in Redmond. To wit:

  • Apple TV's most highly touted feature is its weakest one: It requires an HDTV, but the video you download is so low-res that it looks as fuzzy as plain old broadcast TV. It's sort of like how the Zune digital music player's touted Wi-Fi connection only lets you temporarily "lend" music to another Zune.
  • Apple TV's coolest feature is one that wasn't even intended: the screensaver, which plays an ethereal slide show of your digital photos. I guess that tops Zune's sexiest feature, which I would argue is that you can buy it in brown. Love the brown.
  • There's no way to order a movie directly from the iTunes store via your TV, even though Apple TV has its own connection to the Internet. Instead, you have to download it to your computer first. Likewise, the Zune won't allow you to purchase music directly via its Wi-Fi capability.
  • Apple TV lets you show photos only from a single computer, even though photos are the one source of HD content everyone has, and are easy and legal to share over a network. That is especially odd, because Apple TV does allow you to share digital music from multiple PCs. The Zune, in a similarly consumer-hostile way, won't let you play purchased digital music recorded in Microsoft's previous music format.

 There are shortcomings that even Microsoft would not have overlooked: Apple TV doesn't have a DVD drive or a volume control on its minimalist remote or ... but enough. "

 He continued to speculate that

"So it really makes you wonder whether the iPhone, when it finally arrives next month, will be clunky and misguided despite its gorgeousness and slick user interface...."

Well, remember Steve Jobs introduced Apple TV and iPhone last year in that big Mac event? So far, Apple TV turns out to be a dud. iPhone? Who knows... As Schlender pointed out, the problem with hyping a product before it comes is that "it's bound to disappoint no matter how good it is."  Indeed, think about Nintendo Wii. Think about Google/Windows Live. Not many people knew these when they launched.

The cell phone equivalent of Wii is not coming yet. iPhone is definitely not the one.