Apple TV embarks on a new stage in its life, and Apple Arcade can drive it

We don’t get it enough, but we’re in what’s going to be the last few months of an Apple not having us to subscribe online. Once Apple TV+ starts offering its catalog, the Apple we all know is going to be a thing of the past. And that’s going to have an impact even on Apple’s own hardware. And where we see the most to see the effect, in my opinion, is on Apple TV.

The first two «stages» of Apple TV

We could say that Apple TV has lived two major stages in its life as a product. The first stage began with the birth of the device in 2006, presented by Steve Jobs as the iTV. Interestingly, the event in which it was presented was also presided over by the phrase «It’s Showtime»:

Steve Jobs introduced the «iTV» but eventually what would eventually be launched would be the «Apple TV» in 2007. The first stage begins, the stage of the hobby. Apple treated that player as a secondary thing, which didn’t have too much priority, a simple bridge to turn any TV into a window to the entire Apple’s multimedia catalog at the time.

Over the years the Apple TV was renewed, rather with a sparse frequency. Special mention to Steve Jobs’ «One more Hobby» in 2010, when the physical appearance of the player was renewed:

The end of the hobby phase occurred in 2015, when Apple introduced the fourth generation Apple TV (now called Apple TV HD). From then on, Apple was serious about «simple bridge» to play content on any TV. So much so that an entire operating system was created for that player:

The second stage was beginning. The tvOS stage, Siri and apps. From that moment on, Apple went on to motivate all content providers not to simply offer their content—now they also had to build their apps for tvOS. During this stage we have also seen how some games have had a timid impact in our living room. Not enough to make the PlayStation and Xbox worry, but a timid impact.

This stage has peaked with Apple TV 4K, which has brought 4K HDR quality to series and movies and perfect power for casual games that have so far been populated by tvOS. Let’s not forget that during this period Apple TV has also become the hub to be able to control our HomeKit accessories remotely.

This second stage has been shorter. He recently finished with the keynote on March 25.

The third stage

We could say that right now we’re in an extension of the second stage, or in a dead time if you prefer it that way. The third stage will begin as the first AirPlay 2 and iTunes-compatible TVs start working. That’s when those TVs will take care of the main function that the Apple TV has until now had: being able to play content from Apple devices and services.

If the TVs themselves from various manufacturers are already going to have AirPlay 2 and the TV/iTunes app… then what will it do with having the Apple TV? We need a compelling reason that, even if you have a TV with AirPlay 2, people still want to have that Apple TV connected to it.

That compelling reason can take its first steps soon: it’s called Apple Arcade. Apple’s new video game service has as a key feature the intercompatibility of its games between iOS, macOS… and also tvOS. And yes, it’s something that’s been rumored for years, but now is when we start to seriously suspect whether Apple TV could end up being a console. It can be the third stage of the device.

We’ve always thought of an Apple console as an Apple TV trying to look like today’s salon video consoles, but as always since Cupertino they want to go their own way and not the one that takes the competition. Apple TV will evolve, but it will evolve in its own way and influenced by all these new services that will appear in a few months. We’ll see how he goes.