Way back in 1995, Web TV Networks created a product ultimately bought by Microsoft and rebranded MSN TV. The idea in those days was to deliver the browser experienced on a TV screen (almost certainly a CRT monitor!) using a setup box and a custom keyboard. A total failure for obvious reasons, starting from a very poor video quality.
The opposite approach – video content displayed on a computer screen – was pioneered by a company originally called Cameron Broadcast Systems and eventually renamed broadcast.com. Yahoo! acquired it in April 1999 for almost $6B, making their founder instant billionaires.
None of the two approaches ever delivered anything closer to the expectations. The introduction of broadband made it almost natural to play HD videos on a computer (and mobile devices more recently), eventually paving the way to services such as Vimeo and YouTube. Nowadays moving video content from a computing device to a TV monitor requires a very inexpensive hardware products (Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, Roku, Boxee, and many more), and this task is delegated to some functions embedded into the operating system. Apple AirPlay a perfect example.
With the introduction of iOS 8 and soon Yosemite, the scenario changes drastically, adding a new dimension to the debate. Thanks to the progressive integration and convergence of the two Apple operating systems, phone capabilities have been added to Macs and iPads too: Apple Handoff adds telephony functionalities to devices otherwise incapable of performing such a task. Besides running iOS 8 and Yosemite, a second prerequisite consists in sharing the same WiFi. In this environment, iPhone’s telephony functionalities are automatically shared with other devices, allowing for calls to be made and received while working on a Mac or an WiFi iPad.
While this might seem such as a marginal new feature, in practical term it is quite convenient to decouple the telephony service from the iPhone and extending it to any other connected devices. The benefits and consequences are obvious: bridging a Mac and an iPhone means closing a gap and blurring the line between these two devices, at least from an operating perspective. Calling one of your contacts while working at your desk in a seamless and natural way is super cool and very convenient. Same for incoming calls ringing on the Mac screen.
As a consequence, I personally won’t consider anymore buying an iPad equipped with a SIM card. While under the same WiFi, iOS will provide seamless integration between devices, and while on the road a personal hotspot will connect the tablet to the Internet.
Consider solved the dilemma between TV and computers. The former is a simply a screen (despite all efforts by Samsung and LG to add some smart functionalities) populated by content from multiple sources. High resolution screens and displays provide excellent solutions to render HD content. And the integration between the phone and a Mac has revitalized the old computing experience. What truly matters are high resolution screens, powerful computing powers, and excellent connectivity.
Simple and cool!