New AppleTV brings limited rentals, Netflix

Apple TVI want to love AppleTV, I really do. But Apple refuses to make it into a truly compelling peripheral. This week’s update was much needed – prior to this point the little TV box was completely forgettable. By adding Netflix support and focusing on rentals vs. purchases, I think Apple’s done a smart thing, but it’s only halfway there.

The biggest news is the new access to content. Streaming movie rentals is great, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see Netflix offer this as part of a premium service over the course of the next year. TV rentals is great, but it’s only Fox and ABC for now (granted, others will probably get on board quickly) and there’s no mention of how soon after air we’ll get these. It’s likely a short window, but imagine what Apple could have if these were available the instant they aired. That would be something to get excited about, something that would take a lot of money away from cable providers and put it directly in Apple’s pocket.

Ever since I first used a streaming service, I’ve wanted Big Cable to die. I don’t use my TV because I have so many more options when I watch on my computer. I would love it if someone could provide all of those options, all in one place, all for one reasonable price. Would I pay $1 an episode if I could watch the shows I care about live? Of course I would. Cable companies seem to operate under the idea, though, that you should charge one customer for as many things as he might possibly be willing to pay for, instead of providing a service that’s so good that your one customer tells every single person he knows.