Apple TV? There’s an app store for that

Apple Engadget, which started the latest round of rumoring about a new version of Apple TV, is back this morning with a new entry that advances the “story” in at least one important area (ironically a more important one than Engadget seems to realize). The thrust of the piece concerns the disappointing news that the new set-top, to be rechristened iTV, will not support 1080i or 1080p resolutions as originally thought but will limit “HD” to 720p. The real news, however, is the addition of the App Store.

If true, the report would bolster the theory, spelled out in a white paper I wrote for GigaOm Pro (sub. req.), that Apple’s TV strategy is less focused on the functionality of the set-top device itself than on extending the App Store platform to the living room.

To a degree not always appreciated, the App Store platform, more than devices, has become the focus of Apple’s meta-strategy. It’s now in the process of extending that platform to ever-larger screens, from the 3.5-inch iPhone display, to the 10-inch iPad and ultimately to the 50-inch LCD flat screen in the living room. True, the iPad represents a new type of device. But its main function for Apple is to establish proprietary apps as a new modality for distributing and consuming media content, and to establish Apple as a major media platform provider and distributor.

App-based distribution is Apple’s best bet to break the incumbent video providers’ monopoly on linear video distribution to the home referred to by Steve Jobs in his comments at the D8 Conference in May, and to subvert Google’s dominance of browser-based content consumption.

Luckily for Apple, incumbent video providers are playing right into its hands by developing their own iPad apps.

Further reading:

Cloud in the Forecast for Apple ($$)

Why Cable Operators Need an Apps Strategy ($$)

With TV Apps, Over-the-Top Video Gets New Backers ($$)