Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment.
A recently unearthed patent filing shows Apple is thinking beyond its current living room video vending machine, the Apple TV. Among a number of new features, the design specifies how DVR information could be sent to a portable remote control similar to Apple's existing iPod and iPhone, taking integration among its products to a new level.
And it's not just working together for the sake of some superficial "better together" marketing angle. How many times have you heard friends discussing some great new show that you missed? With the capabilities Apple illustrates, one could perhaps call up the TV listings right from their iPhone and schedule to record the next episode. What's unknown is how Apple would transfer recorded DVR shows to an iPod or iPhone -- would recordings by synced through iTunes? And, if so, would they be tied to an authorized account to discourage internet redistribution?
In fact, while the addition of DVR features might raise questions about Apple retreating from selling TV shows, it would really reflect the reality of these show purchases being opportunistic (as well as perhaps serving as a tactic to bring NBC back to the bargaining table). Besides, DVR integration with the iTunes store could lead to more revenue opportunities. In the aforementioned scenario, the DVR could offer the opportunity to buy the episodes missed so far.