Kevin Rose the founder of Digg made a prediction in a recent post about how the rumored $99 iTV will change everything. He makes great points about how this could disrupt the Cable TV market and provide a great interactive TV experience for consumers. This makes me think about whether the iTV could also provide a great platform for business apps as well. Certainly Apple is not targeting businesses with this device, however the same could be said of the iPhone and iPad when they came out. Regardless of the intent, consumers also have day jobs and found ways to put these devices to work.
At $99 the price is right for a low maintenance Thin Client with a great experience. This could be appealing to many companies including small business or even home offices that may have conceptually considered Thin Clients, but the overhead of learning/implementing/managing a thin client platform was not worth the effort for a small number of devices. For larger companies with security concerns, iOS is fairly locked down already and there is a growing ecosystem of Mobile Device Management solutions that can provide higher levels of control. Including the ability to restrict/prevent time waster apps from being installed. This solution could be ideal for guest offices & cubicles, conference rooms with projectors or HDTV’s, or any task based workstation at many Mac centric organizations. Hotel rooms would be a no-brainer.
What about a mouse? Yes currently this is an issue. Consider this, if the Apple Magic Trackpad will support iTV then gestures and mouse functions can be enabled as it does with Macs. Problem solved ! Even without the Magic Trackpad it is also possible for apps like Receiver to pair an iPhone with an iPadand serve as a trackpad, so applying this for iTV is not a stretch. There is also ample opportunity for 3rd party keyboard/mouse vendors to provide some great solutions.
iPhone apps on an iTV ? Even if the hundreds of thousands of iOS apps works with iTV they won’t necessarily look good stretched on a big screen, even the iPhone apps look awkward on the iPad. However if the apps would run as widgets on the “desktop” of a large display this could provide a useful workspace. Apple would need to endorse/allow this but it could be appealing.
Business Apps for the iOS are appearing all the time and many could be appropriate for this scenario, safari web apps and HTML5 apps can work at any size.
Virtual Desktops from an app like Citrix Receiver can provide access to most existing Windows business apps and desktops just as they do today with traditional Thin Clients. Many companies already have the required Infrastructure in place or are considering Desktop Virtualization as an alternative to Windows 7 PC migration/replacements.
So would the rumored “iTV” really displace the existing niche of Thin Clients ? No. However as we have already seen with iPhones breaking into the enterprise and the iPad successfully defining the Tablet as the 3rd screen most people will have, we could see the iTV legitimize the Thin Client form factor and function plus make it pervasive ( and cool ).
That would change everything… again..