Should Apple get into the TV business?
-TVs are a highly commoditized, low-margin business. Profits are often so hard to eke out even many TV companies barely want to be in the TV business. (To put it another way, Apple only likes to play in verticals where they can maintain industry-leading margins.)
-TVs are very low frequency purchases, meaning if Apple built intelligence into the sets, their replacement cycles would be far longer than for lower cost consumer electronics (i.e. 5-10+ or more years on a $3,000 TV vs. 1-3 years on a $99 set-top-box). Talk about adding insult to injury: not only do TVs have low margins, people hardly ever buy them.
-Flat panel production is an absurdly massive and costly exercise. A company like Apple would likely be buying its HDTV panels from someone else, which means they wouldn't exactly be innovating on the picture side of the product. (Admittedly, PQ is the least interesting part of an Apple HDTV.)
-There's very little a manufacturer like Apple could ONLY do if they went ahead and built the set themselves. In fact, in most cases TV experiences are actually far better executed with a set-top-box than with direct integration. (Just ask Sony why there isn't a PlayStation built into Bravia HDTVs.)
-It will always be easier to sell someone a $99 (or cheaper) device than a multi-thousand dollar display. And thanks to HDMI, Apple can always be assured it will have an instant, single-cable connectivity option.
All those things said, the rumor persists, year after year. I just don't see it.
So, do you think Apple should get into the TV business? If so, why?
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BUT... Apple is a hardware manufacturer and software integrator. They already have all these parts only not put into one product. Besides just putting together the Apple TV and a Cinema Display (plus other necessary hardware like tv tuners etc) for example, they would also need to come up with some extra features to make it more appealing. Their Macbooks and iMacs have great plus's against other brands. Mostly because of Mac OS X and the great build quality. Just making a tv and slapping the Apple logo on it isn't gonna cut it. The TV nowadays is a peripheral device. Macs can be used for more than only entertainment.
Google is failing with the Google TV, Apple already has a second generation Apple TV out. Though they sell pretty good (duh at 99 bucks) it still isn't the most succesfull product out there. I think this is because the tv is a device which is mostly used by multiple people at the same time. Doing stuff on your computer is a solo operation (though it can be multiple but it's not as handy).
Besides these points people are also hooking up their computers to their tv's already. For example Apple's own Mac mini is also shown on its product page hooked up to a flat screen. Though I think that's not the ultimate solution, together with the Apple TV, they already have 2 products which could be used to hook up on the big screen.
To end with a question: if they REALLY wanted to get into the tv business, wouldn't they have fitted the Apple TV 2nd gen with a tv tuner card already?
Sure, Apple *could* make a TV and shove their set-top box inside it, but it would actually have a negative long-term effect. It would be like taking their set top box and adding a concrete block to it. People would be far more inclined to buy the latest Apple set-top box for $99 every couple of years, than having to replace a $999 giant flat screen, in order to have the latest stuff from the iTunes/App Store.
What's next? Apple should make cars so that they can truly integrate your iPhone into the dash?
I keep trying to use the built in features, but my set top boxes (PS3, 360 and Apple TV) win out every time.
IMHO TV's should be dumb display devices. We'll update every 5 years or more... but get new boxes as needed.
I honestly see streaming from a wireless device to be much more their route. Once the iPad goes under another revision or two, pump in some wireless HDMI, or Intel's standard and pump content to the TV. The iPad could show the guide/queue/library playing as the UI, so not your typical on screen remote. Also they could pump in social media interaction.
I know they're doing their dumb ping thing but they could do some neat stuff with Facebook/Twitter. Turn the new episode of a highly popular show into an online event. Everyone on Facebook on Thursday nights are networking while watching. Since the iPad would be there in your hands engaging you, they could pump their interactive ads on it while hopefully negating ads from the big screen.
Today's generation is completely ADHD while watching video anyways. Get to them on the screen they're actively using. Everyone blocks out ads on tv. While watching hulu I flip to the other desktop to check Reader while the 30 sec ad jumps in. Plus Apple taking ads away from the big screen sounds like the sort of thing they would trumpet as them changing the industry and making a better world for consumers.
All this said, I'm not an Apple fan, and do not have a tablet. I've had a PC hooked to my tv since 2006 and computing from my recliner seems normal to me. So I'm not one that gets the need for a TV UI like Boxee or AppleTV, etc. I also dont get the need for a tablet when a PC does so much more at once. I understand I'm not everyone however, and I plan to get an Android tablet this year to make apps for it though.
Note, we are OTA and OTT tv watchers. No cable. All our watching is over the air ATSC and we also buy shows from iTunes and watch Netflix. So most of that works through our Apple products!
I'd love to play games like Eve Online or surf the web on my television, but the text is always so blurry (even on high-end TVs) because they're not optimized for it. I might hook a Mac Mini to a TV to watch my movies with it, but I'm going to immediately remove it the instant I need to do anything involving text.
Integrated Apple TV might be nice, but I tend to dislike combo-devices because inevitably, one of the features fails first and you end up having to replace the whole thing.
Tech convergence forces are pushing all our personal processing power into mobile devices. Eventually, our phones will be "us", and will be the only processor we're carrying around any longer, and any other devices will act as dumb peripherals. Witness: Motorola Atrix. We're already at the point where, as John Carmack has mentioned, our phones (iphone4) are half a generation behind the game consoles in power. Under Moore's law, how much longer will having a desktop make sense? They're already going extinct, as evidenced by sales delta figures. How long until full-size laptops go the same way?
What this means with regards to Apple is that we'll be piping a portion of our TV service through our phones, then sending that video signal to whatever peripherals are in the area.
Should Apple get into the TV business? That's not a very good question. It's just another display for our content devices.
Now maybe they don't want to step on Bose's profits, because they get a cut of the speakerdocks' profits but I think that Apple is so hot right now that if they released something similar to Jawbone's jambox with Airplay instead of bluetooth it would be a huge hit. I think they can then move to surround sound, sound bars, and alarm clocks and really sell people on multi room, piecemeal speaker systems. I don't know much about Sonos, but apparently they are making money charging people up the @$$ for features similar to Airplay.
There are definitely people interested in paying a lot of money for "high quality audio" and Bose has shown that superior marketing inspires people to buy high priced stereos. Apple can market their products better than their competitors so I think it makes a lot of sense given their current stance in the home as a music player. The fact that they sell lots of iPhones, iPod Touches and Macs will help tremendously. People love it when a new product works with their existing stuff, even if they never thought about needing/using the new product. Capitalizing on excitement is right up Apple alley.
I also think it doesn't fit with Apple's general style of leaving out certain features only to introduce them in later models. So it would be interesting to see how they dealt with that sticky wicket.
Plus, I don't know if I'm ready to spend $4000 on a 42 inch TV right now.
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I frankly believe that the days of serial timed programming are numbered. When you turn a TV on you should see a custom (or genius) selection of programmes that have recently become available for you to pick. This will rely heavily on a good data connection.
Apple will make a TV when the time is right. When they do make one. It will need to be able to fully replace Sky or Cable TV. It will however require a rollout with one of the broadband internet providers (for each country) to give a reliable service.
The reason a PS3 isn't integrated into a TV is two fold: Space and intent. 1. A PS3 requires heat removal and room for components. A specialized chipset designed to stream content doesn't. 2. Intent. The PS3 is a multi-purpose (or general purpose) device meant to play high end games, stream media, play Blue Ray and DVD discs. The Apple TV as we know it doesn't want or need to do any of that.
An Apple TV experience could redefine the flat screen as we know it. More competition in this market can only improve the user experience. Consider smart phones before and after the iPhone. A well executed Apple LED TV would be the kind of market disruption we need.
then again, I miss the Pioneer Kuro line... :( they were gone before I was ever in a position to get one...
On the Engadget HD podcast, they often revel in the beauty that was 'The Pioneer Kuro Plasma' and the "Pioneer Elite" brand that is no more and while Samsung's high end LED model and Sony and Panasonic have had higher end models, there haven't been any Pioneer Elite class models. Nothing that can be considered the definitive "reference design", basically. I can totally see Apple designing a "50" Cinema Display with Retina Display quality". I mean, I can totally hear Steve now: "This is the best thing we've ever done." And you'd have to price it at a Mercedes-like premium. Now, you wouldn't really have the volume, but you'd establish yourself as THE premium television. Kinda like seeing a Sub Zero refrigerator in someone's home. It's like a status symbol.
Even given their ridiculous cash position and the fact that they probably can experiment here without too much risk, I just don't see the volume upside ever coming. But if I had to do it, I'd use those points. And I wouldn't sell them in Best Buy at all. Or any retailer for that matter. You'd have to go to the "Magnolia" equivalent in certain special Apple Retail Stores to see them. I guarantee that certain offices would put them up as their presentation displays. It would be a total status symbol for an office to upgrade to Cinema Displays. It would be like the new Aeron chair.
I agree, however, that they will not build TVs but set-top-boxes. But here's the critical difference I think Apple will include. "i OS-TV." Most people have one TV, or at least one *good* TV. There is no such thing as one box you can plug into that TV that will do "everything" a TV is good for. Game console, cable/satellite box, internet video, general media (think photos & home movies). All of these things are in separate boxes or possibly combined into a horrendously complex beast that your average consumer would have no hope of achieving.
Enter Apple with a hybrid between the current Apple TV and an AV receiver. The "receiver" is just like today's receivers with two important differences. First, although there is a small LED display on the front, the main interface is on the TV screen. Second, the receiver is able to accept signals from *and control* many connected devices. See the list above of separate boxes.
In short, Apple's new idea will be to create an OS for your TV. All those devices currently come with their own controllers, their own (often horrible) on-screen interfaces and they're all markedly different. Yes, a PS3 can play net video but it's hardly a consumer-level living room experience. It's a hack at best. Now imagine a variation on the current Apple TV's "40 foot" interface, but add "Games" and "TV" to the main menu. Want to surf your channel guide? It'll be no different than surfing your iTunes library. Want to see what games your console has loaded? Same interface.
If you go back and listen to Jobs' D8 interview, you can hear him say what the current problem is with the living room TV - it's all those disparate boxes that companies are making a loss on and you can't replace them. So why not unify them? Build a set of standards through which they can interact with the receiver and it's control mechanism - most likely a touch pad in the hand. Sure, you'll still need game controllers, but they can come with the appropriate box just as they do now.
For some years now I have balked at buying into any box that hooks up to my TV because none of them will do everything I want. With the TV OS that problem goes away. I can teach the family one simple interface and away they go.
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How Apple does that is a good question. Certainly a good percentage of folks will be happy with a TV purchase, to be done with the whole thing and get on with enjoying TV for once. Others are going to prefer a box only. I think this is not unlike iMac vs Mac mini, where several form factors make sense and could be utilized.
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