Steve Jobs: AppleTV is a hobby

(All quotes in this post are either taken from Engadget’s excellent live-blogging coverage or the edited video published on the D: conference website).

Steve Jobs“We’re in two businesses today, we’ll very shortly be in three, and a hobby”, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs told Walt Mossberg in an on-stage interview at yesterday’s D: conference. The first two are computers and digital music (iPod/iTunes), and the third will be the cell phone market which Apple will enter next month with the launch of the iPhone. And the hobby? The company’s recently released set-top-box, the AppleTV.

“The reason I call it a hobby is a lot of people have tried and failed to make it a business. It’s a business that’s hundreds of thousands of units per year but it hasn’t crested to be millions of units per year, but I think if we improve things we can crack that.”

Later on in the Interview, Mossberg describes solving the problem of connecting the PC/Internet to the TV as a holy grail, and asked Jobs again why he referred to the AppleTV as a hobby. While admitting it was a purposely provocative statement, Jobs continued to play down the significance of the device, saying that for now we should think of it as the entree not the main course. “Coming from the PC market you first think about getting content from your PC to your living-room. I’m not sure that’s really what most consumers want”.

Jobs then went on to demonstrate the device’s new capability: watching YouTube videos streamed directly from the Internet. Perhaps a hint of what’s yet to come; the main course as it were. The company had lots of other ideas for the AppleTV, he said, including pulling in other content from the Internet. Although he all but ruled out adding a web browser to the device. “I think a normal web browser is not necessarily what people want in their living room”, he said.

In conceiving the AppleTV, Jobs said that for a long while the company wanted to produce a set-top-box, but didn’t want to have to deal with the Cable companies, and the different technical standards required to do so. It just didn’t make sense. Then he realized that there were a lot more DVD players in existence than traditional set-top-boxes.

“… we just want to be a new DVD player for the Internet age. And that’s what we can be. So our model for the Apple TV is like a DVD player for the Internet.”

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

15 Responses to “Steve Jobs: AppleTV is a hobby”

  1. [...] Source:last100 (All quotes in this post are either taken from Engadget’s excellent live-blogging coverage or the edited video published on the D: conference website). “We’re in two businesses today, we’ll very shortly be in three, and a hobby”, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs told Walt Mossberg in an on-stage interview at yesterday’s D: conference. The first two are […] Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  2. [...] has an excellent post analyzing comments about the upcoming AppleTV, made by Steve Jobs at yesterday’s D5 [...]

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  7. [...] Steve O’Hear covered all the news coming from the D Conference this week – including the historic discussion on-stage between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, the two iconic technologists of our era. In other last100 posts this week, Steve noted that [...]

  8. [...] Steve O’Hear covered all the news coming from the D Conference this week – including the historic discussion on-stage between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, the two iconic technologists of our era. In other last100 posts this week, Steve noted that [...]

  9. Ed says:

    Based on that interview you can assume Apple will one day produce a device that drags all the content off every PC in your house and you access it from your sofa via a browser built into a top set box. Or have I not followed Steve Jobs long enough?

  10. [...] Jobs admitted as much, calling the AppleTV a “hobby”. Of course, direction-less products tend not to go anywhere, that is axiomatic. Apple’s [...]

  11. [...] The online video landscape has changed dramatically since the AppleTV was launched last January. Along with a range of me-too video download stores competing directly with iTunes, there exists a confusing mix of ad-supported destination sites run by the television networks themselves, including Hulu and the catch-up service, NBC Direct, complemented by desktop Internet TV applications such Joost and Babelgum (again, both ad-supported), as well as video aggregators such as VeohTV. Perhaps recognizing this, Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself has sought to reposition the the company’s set-top-box away from “completing the story”, in terms of Apple’s digital lifestyle strategy, to being relegated to the company’s hobby. [...]

  12. [...] leaves the AppleTV line – Apple’s “hobby”.  What could have been a huge product this Christmas is turning into a dud.  [...]

  13. [...] that can be accessed directly from its set-top box, rather than being tied to a Mac or PC. And at this year’s D: conference, Steve Jobs appeared to acknowledge that for the AppleTV to succeed it will need to loosen its ties [...]

  14. [...] that Steve Jobs and his faithful army of Apple engineers are still able to find time to spend on their hobby. I’m talking about the Apple TV of course, which today received a minor software [...]

  15. [...] that Steve Jobs and his faithful army of Apple engineers are still able to find time to spend on the company’s hobby. I’m talking about the Apple TV of course, which this week received a minor software [...]