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Apple has its sights set on conquering a new market

DailyTech earlier this year offered information from a definitive source which indicated that Apple Inc. (AAPL) was eyeing a move into the LCD television business.  At the time we had talked to an ex-Apple executive who had boasted of the potential of the device.  They pointed to a late 2011 launch, but added that a 2012 launch could be in order given (in so many words) Apple's desire to make things sleek and "perfect".

Well a 2011 launch clearly isn't in the cards, but several sources including Bloomberg and    Piper Jaffray Cos. analyst Gene Munster, have confirmed our source's statements and indicated the LCD TV is still in Apple's product pipeline.

Clues to the pending launch can be found in Walter Isaacson's biography of late Apple CEO and co-founder Steven P. Jobs.  Published by CBS Corp. (CBS), the book recounts an interview in which Mr. Jobs described cracking the problem of how to synchronize content from Apple devices (iPods, Macs, iPhones, iPads) with the TV.  Mr. Jobs stated, "It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine."

Bloomberg adds to the picture, informing that while a source indicates that the TV may never be released, Apple seems to be leaning in that direction, with several sources indicating that iTunes creator Jeff Robbin has been tasked with leading the new TV effort.  Mr. Robbin is an accomplished Apple engineer who helped design the company's hit iPod MP3 player, as well iTunes.

Gene Munster claims that Mr. Robbin's team is cooking up a prototype of the LCD set and could release the set sometime in 2012 or 2013.  He says the release window largely boils down to what kind of LCD unit supply and manufacturing contracts Apple can obtain.  Apple is notorious for driving industry-leading profit margins by ruthless negotiations when it comes to supply and manufacturing contracts.

Apple currently only manufacturers "Apple TV", a settop box that runs a cut down build of iOS and can run iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, and a handful of other services.  The late Mr. Jobs labeled Apple TV "a hobby".  Sales of the device have been low compared to Apple's other product lines.

The new device would reportedly be a full LCD TV unit, with connected entertainment features baked into it.  Presumably driven by iOS, it would wirelessly sync content with other Apple devices, and could even offer rudimentary console gaming, on par with the iPad.

In that regard, Apple will look to follow in the footsteps of Google Inc. (GOOG).  Google has partnered with companies like Sony Corp. (TYO:6758) to release television sets with internet-connected features.  However, the lack of third party apps has stunted the platform and caused a poor reception.  Google has learned from this mistake and is looking to roll out Android 3.1 Honeycomb to sets, adding third party app compatibility.  Apple will likely follow a similar approach, offering "iTV" apps from its App Store. 

The TV project presents both a challenge and an opportunity for Apple, with respect to its smart phone arch-nemesis Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO 005930).  On the one hand, the companies' deterioriating relationship presents a supply problem as Samsung is one of the largest suppliers of large LCD screens.  On the other hand, by releasing its only branded televisions, Apple would strike a blow at one of its rival's core businesses, much as Samsung struck Apple's smartphone business recently surpassing it in sales.

Source: Bloomberg



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RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By aharris02 on 10/25/2011 5:57:01 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't have cable for years. Was strictly Hulu, Netflix, Redbox, or bust.

Now that I've graduated and the girlfriend wants to actually have Comcrap digital cable, I realize how far behind the times the cable delivery system for TV actually is.

Why cable and content need a industry disruption that Apple can provide: Navigating an interface that screams "I know I'm not user friendly, and quite frankly I don't give a shit." Content providers demanding $300M for their libraries (OKAY Starz, let's not forget that your own brand still sucks). All the freaking bloat channels. Twelve commercials between segments. Really? Twelve? Not to mention the pharma ads...

What we need to get us past where the industry currently is, as you eluded, is having a TV that can actually deliver non-bloated content via an easy-to-use UI.

Think back to when the iPod first came out: it arguably had the most user-friendly interface of mp3 players at the time, but what really launched it was that iTunes became the digital music delivery system that people had been clamoring for and studios refused to deliver (sell songs, not albums).

If Apple can repeat that same industry disruption with TV and movies, I'm convinced that consumers will benefit.


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By Reclaimer77 on 10/25/2011 6:29:13 PM , Rating: 2
Uhh that product is already out. It's called Google TV, and it's fantastic. Forget what you've heard. I set one up today for a nice couple and it's just an AMAZING solution. I'm totally buying one ASAP I was so impressed.


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By aharris02 on 10/25/2011 6:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
My experiences with Google TV have been underwhelming, but it has been a while since I've looked at it. Has it had major updates in the past two years?


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By Reclaimer77 on 10/25/2011 8:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
Major updates, yes.


By Fritzr on 10/25/2011 11:26:08 PM , Rating: 3
Google is not the only IP-TV out there. From the sound of this Apple is planning to do what they did with the iPod, iPhone & iPad and Microsoft did with Windows. Be the first to "Invent" an existing technology and take over the market segment.

That part is easy, the first one to do it right (and in the case of Windows offer compatibility with pre-existing systems) grabs the market share.

The second part is difficult...maintaining that advantage. iOS vs everyone else is working on that part of the problem now. iPod is coasting along, using iOS & brand recognition for now.

Microsoft's release of new editions of Windows is their approach to the problem of making sure the competition doesn't start gaining market share year over year.

If Apple does it right, they have a good chance of making this work. Right now we have component based IPTV where the customer buys the components & assembles the set at home. There are also feature-TVs with built in browsers and limited app support, but no generic OS.

There is a place for an integrated Smart-TV with a full blown OS, app store, TC/IP channels and cable/satellite/broadcast compatibility, that an ordinary person can:
Purchase at Best Buy
Take home
Plug it into the wall
Plug in the cable & internet modem cables
...and be relaxing on the couch after 30 minutes or less of installation & setup time.

Today you need to worry about whether the pieces are compatible. An All-In-One TV set eliminates that question just as the original All-In-One 'sets' replaced the tuner+amplifier+battery+speaker radio set and the radio set+video monitor TVs. (actually the component TVs never made it to market, All-In-One was there from the beginning for the TV set, the component TVs are a modern "improvement")


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By MrBlastman on 10/26/2011 12:34:39 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't eliminate the need to pay for cable though, eh? If it did (and didn't require a android/iphone to change channels) I might be all over it. It looks neat to say the least.

I'm trying to figure out how to get rid of cable entirely and still be able to watch the very few channels I watch, most importantly being CNBC, followed by PBS, Discovery and History. BBC would be really nice as well and that's about it. It's a shame Syfy went to poop.


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2011 1:51:29 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
(and didn't require a android/iphone to change channels)


The Logitech Revue comes with an almost full sized wireless keyboard with touch pad. The Sony Internet Google TV, the one I worked with yesterday, comes with a cool mini-keyboard controller with mini thumb-pad. You don't need a phone, the fact that you CAN use a phone and it runs/supports Android apps is a plus. I also like the fact that it comes with IR blasters AND supports Bluetooth.

As far as channels, I'll try and find a list. But it has a full browser so any network streams can be accessed just like you would on a pc. Google TV doesn't really try and replace your cable/satellite box. But it works nicely WITH it. You can have a website or something up with a picture-in-picture box so you can watch cable/satellite at the same time.

Lol listen to me, sounds like I'm advertising for them or something. But I think it's just a solid product that bridges the gap between TV and Internet content better than I've seen done to date.


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By mellomonk on 10/26/2011 6:09:16 PM , Rating: 2
In almost every review written on Google TV setups, the tone goes negative the second they un-pack those keyboard remotes. Can you say "you're doing it wrong". The reviews only went downhill from there as they got into the interface. Ugh.

I am glad you enjoyed the product, but please understand that you are in a tiny tiny minority. Easily one of the worst consumer electronics products in the last decade.

BTW Before being questioned, I spent a trying three days with the Logitech unit. Interesting idea executed very poorly.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2011 6:19:13 PM , Rating: 2
Every review was before the latest updates and Honeycomb, when the product we new and unpolished. What are people saying now?

" The early reviews had been bad, terrible in fact, and so I powered it up expecting a digital disaster.

Instead, I found a remarkably workable hardware/software combination that did everything that was promised.

Set up was a breeze, the shift from cable to web simple, and the device's ability to shift from various sources seamless.
"

http://www.fastcompany.com/1713875/google-tv-an-in...

quote:
Easily one of the worst consumer electronics products in the last decade.


Bullshit. Apple TV is :P


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By TheDoc9 on 10/26/2011 11:28:38 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with this. Target the right size set and features to college kids and this will sell like hotcakes. Internet streaming, easy access and hookup. Sure it's already available through other devices but having it in one sleek, easy to use device will be a big hit.

Just think of how great it will be to never have to help your family members set up their home theater again! TV manufactures should be shaking in their boots right now, and as for cable tv that's a sinking ship.


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By Cheesew1z69 on 10/26/2011 1:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
TV manufactures should be shaking in their boots right now
And why is this? Because it's Apple? I am sure none of them are even thinking about Apple and the very little waves they may make with a TV.


RE: In before anti-Apple banter is spewed
By mellomonk on 10/26/2011 5:58:57 PM , Rating: 2
It is not about channels or content, it is about the INTERFACE. I read a good deal of industry trade pubs and the TV industry has been fearing Apple's entrance into TVs for years. It isn't totally about sales, Apple's sales would be primarily in the high end. But rather that they might come up with an interface that will instantly make their menus and the like obsolete. They would have to rethink and redesign their dated confusing controls all the while running the minefield of patents that Apple would surely be granted. I own two modern TVs (Samsung, Sharp) and a projector (Epson). Setting them up, calibrating, ect is a total geekfest. I set my mother up with a small home theater setup. Every time she plays a blu-ray, I receive a phone call to help her get back to the Cable or similar. In short they should be afraind, very afraid.


By aharris02 on 10/27/2011 12:04:24 AM , Rating: 2
I think a good way to sum it up is that when Apple enters a market, they have a keen ability to raise the expectations of the consumers of that market.

TV manufacturers and cable providers fear this because they've been getting away with serving consumers who have sub-par expectations for so long that they probably don't know how to compete with cutting edge, or anything within the ballpark of it.


By Reclaimer77 on 10/26/2011 6:20:50 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Target the right size set and features to college kids and this will sell like hotcakes.


What college kids YOU know that go around buying $5,000 TV's?


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