The Apple TV Debate
Apple sent out a surreptitious email invitation to the media recently. Designed for Apple's upcoming March 7th event, a cropped picture of a touchscreen device with a finger resting on the Calendar icon was clearly visible on the invite. A simple 10-word slogan, "We have something you really have to see. And touch", was superimposed on the image. Now, it is easy to assume that this is none other than a sneak peek of the iPad 3. See and touch. What else could it be? But some have been quick to point out that the touchscreen gizmo lacked the iPad's signature home button, and this has led to fairly intense speculation that the Cupertino firm might be revealing the Apple TV instead of a third-generation tablet.
Some of the popular publications backing the possibility of an Apple TV launch include IBTimes and Mashable. Essentially, IBTimes surmised it is likely Apple may be releasing an iPad sans the home button, although the actuality of an Apple TV would explain the lack of the home button better. In their own words, "iPad users best be ready to live a life surrounded by touch gesture controls" if Apple is indeed unveiling the iPad 3 without the aforementioned button. Mashable also compiled their own perceptions and readers' inputs in a brief slideshow, largely based on the cryptic Apple invitation. One reader in particular, Bobby Liu, believes the word "see" on the invitation is a valid reference to Apple TV instead of a tablet. Some even highlighted that the size of the icons is way too large for an iPad.
Wired, on the other hand, has just filed a report stating that they'll 'eat their own shoes' if an Apple TV were to be released come March 7th. Their argument is simple. A touch screen TV isn't practical in today's context. "So why would you want to get up off of the couch to touch your TV screen to change channels, especially if you’ve got a remote sitting next to you?", asks Wired's Christina Bonnington. In addition, Miss Bonnigton also mentioned that a vertical touch screen isn't viable due to fatigue it is likely to cause in one's hands and arms - a point which Steve Jobs himself made during Apple’s October 2010 Mac event. And of course, there's also the issue of fingerprint smudges on a touchscreen TV. Can you imagine wiping a 42-inch screen on a frequent basis?
At our end, we believe both camps have made reasonably sound arguments, but we aren't going to rule out the possibility of an Apple TV announcement just yet. It is plausible that Apple is banking on voice-controlled functions (Siri?) as the display's key navigational feature, while its supposed touchscreen capabilities are just dressing on the side. That said, it is more likely we'll see an iPad 2 successor rather than the Apple TV in two days time. Call it our gut feel.