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Why Apple wins

October 27, 2011 1 Comment

Last spring, I bought an Apple TV device to go along with a new large-screen TV in our living room. Setup was simple, and I kept discovering new things that I could do with it. It gets used a lot more than either the Blu Ray player or the DirecTV satellite box also attached to the same TV.

Today, I bought a new (smaller) TV for our bedroom, replacing one that we have had for 8 or 9 years. On impulse, while picking out the TV at Costco, I also picked up a Roku 2 kit (Roku 2, HDMI cable, 2 month subscription to HuluPlus). I figured it would be interesting to see the comparison. Once home, I set up the new TV, hooked up the Roku 2 to it, and started the Roku 2 setup process. I got it talking to my in-home LAN (dual-band 802.11N router), and it signaled successful connection all the way out to the internet. It then told me that an update was available and gave me no other option than to download that update. Not a problem, I thought — always want the latest software.

Sigh. The Roku was never able to download the upgrade, and — this is critical — gave me no option to proceed to use the device without the upgrade. I made half a dozen attempts (all with the same failure, Code 011, unable to connect to Roku server), went to roku.com/support and had a nice chat with Jane, who suggested I reconfigure my router with explicit DNS addresses and then reboot my network. Did so — same problem.  She opined that the Roku server might be having troubles, or that it might be some other unspecified error.

Just to make sure there wasn’t some specific problem with the actual physical location of the Roku 2, I went out to the living room, unplugged my Apple TV, brought it into the bedroom, and plugged it in sitting right where the Roku 2 had been. Worked like a charm. I then went to Amazon and ordered a second Apple TV unit (scheduled to be delivered Saturday morning for just $3.99 in shipping, even though I ordered it Thursday evening — Amazon Prime is just brilliant).

I will probably hang onto the Roku 2 unit and in fact will likely connect it to the living room TV (along with the new Apple TV unit). Assuming that I can get it to update itself and let me use it, I’d like to see what it offers that’s different and/or better than Apple TV. But having had a fair amount of contact with Steve Jobs back during his NeXT days, I know that one of his product mantras was, “It just works.”

The Apple TV, like so many Apple consumer products, just works. And that’s why Apple wins.

[UPDATED 12/19/2011] Of course, having written that firm statement, I am now having problems with my Apple TV units. In the meantime, I did finally get the Roku 2 to register the day after I wrote this post, and it is working fine even though my Apple TV is not. Sigh…

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About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at bwebster@bfwa.com.

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  1. Apple TV problem (technical bleg) : Bruce F. Webster | December 19, 2011

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