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James McQuarrie is a London (UK) based User Experience Consultant who designs and helps build digital products & services that delight their users.

Why Apple will dominate the living room with the new Apple TV (or “iTV” or whatever they call it)

Assuming Apple do indeed launch the much rumoured Apple TV or equivalent some time this year (perhaps later today?), they will dominate the living room and turn yet another industry on it’s head.

Let me tell you a story to explain why…

This past weekend I was home alone. With my other half away visiting family I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with my backlog of LOVEFiLM discs that have been sitting waiting patiently to be watched for a couple of weeks.

After getting a bit of work done Saturday morning I sat down to watch one of the discs with my lunch on lap, a drink within reach and snacks ready and waiting. I’d popped the disc into my PlayStation 3 and turned the TV and the surround sound on.

Ten minutes into the film it skipped. Not a few seconds forward, but to another scene. Quite a long way ahead of where I’d been watching.

Rewind.

Cross fingers, hope it was a temporary glitch.

No such luck; again it skipped, only this time to even further through the film.

Eject.

Put lunch down.

Walk over to the PlayStation.

Retrieve the disc.

Examine it; scratched. Not just a little mark here or there, but this thing had deep grooves taken out of it. You could have used it as a scale model of the Death Star to demonstrate how the trench run was executed the scratches were that deep.

Dejected I think; that’s fine, I’ll stream the film over the PlayStation LOVEFiLM app instead (I’d ordered the disc before it became available to stream).

I sit back down.

Pick up my lunch.

Open the LOVEFiLM app.

Eat while it loads. Eat some more.

Have a drink.

Watch the loading screen.

Any moment now…

Nope, error. The “Network was slow to respond”. Ok, quit the app. Test the network settings. Something’s really slow.

A quick test with my iPhone proves the WIFI and broadband are working fine. It’s the PlayStation that’s running really, really slow. I try turning it off and back on again (I know, but I was desperate).

PlayStation boots up, I eat some more. It warns me about the dangers of epilepsy, and finally I’m at the home screen.

I open the LOVEFiLM app again.

Sit watch the loading screen some more…

My lunch is almost finished by this point, my drink is finished so I go to the kitchen for a refill.

Come back, still no luck.

Network was too slow again.

In desperation I go to the bedroom to fetch my iPad. Unlock it, open the LOVEFiLM player app on that and bingo! I’m presented almost instantly with a list of movies, documentaries and TV shows to browse and watch at my leisure.

The PlayStation, the TV and the surround sound are all turned off, the last mouthful of my lunch is eaten and I lay back on the sofa iPad in one hand, snacks and drink within reach of the other and watch the film I’d set out to watch 20 + minutes before.

It turns out there were Sony Playstation Network issues over the weekend and that these were causing the problems with connecting to LOVEFiLM via the PS3. On the iPad the only network getting in my way was the plain old Internet, which was working fine.

In the world of on demand TV and movies Apple and their Apple TV will rule our living rooms, not because they’ll do anything fancy or because they will offer anything over and above what Sony et al already promise, but because they understand that on demand means on demand.

Apple will craft an experience around the product and the integrated service that comes with it that will just work. As you’d expect. Every time. I’d be able to sit down with my lunch in front of whatever TV device Apple have up their sleeve and be able to start watching the film I want (via my LOVEFiLM account or iTunes or something similar) before I’ve even taken the first bite.

That is why an Apple TV will dominate our living rooms, and why the likes of Sony will be scratching their heads wondering what went wrong and why Apple are eating their lunch.