The latest rumors about the next version of Apple TV — Apple's wildly unpopular attempt to integrate the iTunes ecosystem on televisions — are in. Some say it'll be a stripped-down box running the iPhone's iOS software, while others predict an actual TV, wirelessly connected to iTunes content. Which makes more sense?
A cheap box appears more likely, at least in the short term. Apple TV has never been as popular as the company would like, but it can't just kill the product, since having a "convergence" device — a way for people to move their iTunes content to other platforms — is too important. Since the iOS devices (iPod, iPhone and iPad) all integrate with iTunes effortlessly, it's a logical move to get the Apple TV on the same OS. And given the product's unpopularity it seems unlikely that Apple would do a redesign that would make it more expensive.
However, an Apple-branded TV isn't as hare-brained as it seems at first glance. Apple already makes computer monitors, so the idea is less crazy than, say, Apple making a cellphone seemed five years ago. And to go after a mass audience, the setup of Apple TV has to be dirt-simple. The simple fact that the current product is a box that you need to find a place for and hook up to your TV with a cable makes it a non-starter for a lot of people. You might as well just use the Netflix connection on your Blu-ray player if Apple TV's going to make you do all that.
What do you think? Do you prefer an Apple TV as an cheap iOS streaming box, or a full-fledged connected TV with Apple branding?