LAS VEGAS, CES 2013 – You know what’s funny? Watching giant electronics companies step around the giant Apple-shaped hole at CES. While smaller consumer electronics makers are knocking out great (and terrible – USB Fork, anyone?) iOS accessories, TV makers are clearly trying to preempt the mythical Apple television by making one of their own.
Thus, we’re seeing the age-old “Smart TV” re-emerge as an iOS accessory.
Today, Panasonic showed its new SmartViera TVs. They do all kinds of clever tricks, including aggregating content from various sources, but that’s old news. The future is about letting TVs do what they do best – show us shows and movies – and letting our iPads and cellphones do what they do best: personal interaction. So, instead of typing your tweets into the big screen while the rest of the family watches you fumble through an on-screen keyboard, now you can beam your pictures right to the TV.
It’s like AirPlay, but Panasonic has added a twist in that other people in the room can grab those pictures and copy them to their own devices. You know those high-tech TV cop dramas where they swipe photos off the interactive conference-room desk onto their iPads? It’s like that, only without the bloody murder that always follows.
This is incredibly smart. Apple’s success with iOS and the iTunes Store has made it the de-facto standard for media. And while Panasonic’s TVs also work with Android devices, it’ll be iPads and iPhones that people actually use with their televisions.
Think of it this way: we’re quickly switching from computers to mobile devices as our main machines, but we still need a central place to store TV shows and backup our photos. Why shouldn’t that be the TV? Instead of mimicking the functionality of our cellphones, why not take the place of something that is dying – the media PC?
Maybe Apple will make an actual TV, and maybe it won’t (I’m in the “no” camp). Either way, its unicorn-like presence at the edge of reality is still enough to force the hands of the likes of Panasonic. And if this means better TVs that work better with my iDevices, I’m all for it. Not that I even own something as old-fashioned as a “Television Set.”.