SimpleTV, Aereo miss the mark

Some early reviews of the original Kindle were very dismissive, wondering why anyone would want to carry around a limited device with a goofy display. These tech-savvy reviewers predicted failure for Amazon, saying that people would prefer general purpose phones or tablets for reading. A lot of these reviewers were not actually heavy book readers tho.

Amazon has done just fine with Kindles. They focused on people who actually bought and read a lot of books. For book enthusiasts, the Kindle has been just fine, and heavy readers have no issue carrying around a device focused just on reading — it saves carrying around 4-5 books. And book enthusiasts spend a lot of money on books and can justify the expense easily. Long term, general purpose tablets may displace the hardware Kindle, but Amazon has played this well, and I suspect focused devices targeting enthusiasts will always have a place.

Two recent TV products are interesting — Simple.TV is a slick looking little box to receive and record OTA programming, won all kinds of kudos at CES. Aereo lets you watch OTA TV anywhere on any device, with no antenna or fuss. Aereo is getting a ton of press, less about the product, more about Barry Diller and tussles with broadcasters.

Neither of these products focus on people who spend money on TV — TV enthusiasts. People who like TV spend lots of money on cable subs, on TV sets, on premium channels, etc. Enthusiasts don’t want to spend less, they just want it all to work well and to be a great experience. SimpleTV and Aereo both focus on people who don’t want to spend any money on TV programming, who just want OTA content, which seems strange. Like creating an ebook reader for people who don’t want to actually buy books, who only want to download public domain free books — that strategy has been tried and it has failed. At least SimpleTV lets you watch TV programming on a TV. Aereo doesn’t even connect to a TV set unless you buy something from Roku or Apple or someone else. So Aereo is for people who want to watch TV, but not on a TV, and who don’t value TV programming enough to pay for it.

OK that is a little snarky, obviously there is demand for cord-cutting and these products will find some success. But you’d think someone would create a product aimed at people who like TV, who spend a lot on TV, who want TV on TV sets, and who also want some of the other features of Simple and Aereo — watch anywhere on any device. NimbleTV seems like it could be more interesting.