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With support from Zoom and Cisco Webex, Apple TV may be a low cost way for smaller businesses to get set up for hybrid meetings.

Deploying a conference room for hybrid meetings can be costly if you’re a small to midsize enterprise (SME), but the price potentially plummets as online meeting provider Zoom joins Webex in launching a new Apple TV meeting app. The new app uses Apple’s Continuity Camera feature, introduced earlier this year, which lets you use the camera on your iPhone or iPad as a camera for a connected Apple device.

Starting in iOS 17, Apple has extended support for this feature to Apple TV in support of FaceTime. Now that it has been introduced for Zoom and Webex, we can hope to see it appear on other conferencing platforms like Teams. This is what has usually happened over the last few years when Apple introduces new videoconferencing tools, including Stage Manager.

The inevitable consumerization of IT 

The solution, which requires an Apple TV, an iPhone or iPad, and a display, won’t necessarily be all things to all people, but it should make it possible to create a high-quality meeting experience in any home or small office.[ The 10 best new Microsoft Teams meeting features ]

This is bang on trend in terms of the continued consumerization of IT that has been impacting enterprise culture ever since the internet came of age.

It’s yet another signal that shows both the growing maturity of consumer technology and the rapid erosion of perceived differences between consumer and enterprise culture.

The division between the two continues to fade, and while change is difficult and takes place over time (which is why middle management is currently winning the campaign to get people back to the office), the arc of change requires a vision that extends beyond the art of stasis.

What we have here is a scenario that equips a billion or so people to operate conferencing from small offices and homes at a fraction of the cost of high-end meeting systems.

What you get with Zoom on Apple TV

Zoom lists the key features of Zoom on Apple TV as follows:

In short, this means Zoom users with an Apple TV and iPhone will be able to initiate and join meetings, use chat, break out rooms, and all the other tools we use in Zoom.

The big snag in this arrangement is the need to sign in on both the Apple TV and the iPhone using the same Apple ID, which suggests that businesses may also need to invest in an iPad to act as the shared camera system, which adds to the cost. Alternatively, this could be a good use of the Return to Service feature Apple recently introduced, in conjunction with MDM.

Did you miss that Apple TV is an enterprise product?

Scratch just a little and you’ll find that a fairly rich ecosystem of enterprise tech support for Apple TV has already evolved. Many of the leading device management firms, including Jamf, Kandji, Hexnode, and others, already support the hardware.

That gives IT the key to the Apple TV kingdom, enabling them to support and manage these devices remotely en masse. Such support wouldn’t exist without a reason, and that rationale is that the device has spent the last few years seeing deployment in meeting rooms, at retail, and within the education and healthcare sectors.

It’s a direction of travel that is driving acceleration in the process of integrating consumer electronics with professional communication tools, and we continue to witness rapid evolution in that space, driven by the lessons we learned during Covid.

We’re also seeing other significant activity around the Apple set-top box.

While not obviously enterprise focused, the move by Express VPN to offer a VPN app to Apple TV will almost certainly come in handy to people seeking to watch shows from their own country when travelling, but it may also give some businesses a little more peace of mind when using the Apple product.

The bottom line? The consumerization of IT is a reality, not a trend, and the immediate future of business is likely to be very different to that of today.