"Apps Are the New Channels"

Following the release of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography, speculation as to how Steve might've "cracked" the television formula have been rampant. This morning, Nick Bilton of the New York Times wrote that an Apple Television is definitely on its way. How might this work? John Gruber has the most compelling, yet feasible vision so far:

Letting each TV network do their own app allows them the flexibility that writing software provides. News networks can combined their written and video news into an integrated layout. Networks with contractual obligations to cable operators, like HBO and ESPN, can write code that requires users to log in to verify their status as an eligible subscriber.

Imagine watching a baseball game on a TV where ESPN is a smart app, not a dumb channel. When you’re watching a game, you could tell the TV to show you the career statistics for the current batter. You could ask the HBO app which other movies this actress has been in. Point is: it’d be better for both viewers and the networks if a TV “channel” were an interactive app rather than a mere single stream of video.

A plausible theory based upon the evident success of Newsstand.