Apple has desktop computers, portable media players, mobile phones, tablet computers, a media gateway (AppleTV) and a vast library of content. AppleTV is a weak sister to Apple’s other products because it doesn’t share the same level of design, user experience and simplicity as Apple’s other, more successful products. If I were Apple, I would consider making a TV that combines a media gateway, navigation system and DVR capability that is easy to use and integrates what is needed to connect web video to a TV i.e. a seamless and plug and play broadband connection to the TV. After all, a TV is just a monitor. Apple already have most of the components for their TV. All it needs to do is design a bigger screen that incorporates elements of AppleTV and the iTouch/iPad and some enhanced navigation. iTunes is already there with a large library.
Of course Apple needs to figure out a few things like how to get the studios and networks to allow them to distribute their content including live sports, news and their catalogs of films and TV shows. They are already half way there and the Industry is moving there a break-neck speed. of course Apple will have to ease up on its control-oriented approach and open up to allow the consumer to access all legal content and not just what Steve wants you to see.
What would the Apple TV (let’s call it iTV) look like- it would be between 42’ and 55’; it would be white (black maybe later); it would have an OLED screen; it would come complete with a media gateway and a direct connection to a broadband modem (including a high speed wireless connection like WiFi). The iTV remote could be an iPad or a iTouch. The iTV would come with iTunes, and some elements of Apple TV. The 42’ unit will cost 50% more than the high-end LCD/LED TVs on the market. Apple won’t have much trouble getting the premium price from its legions of devotees.
The tricky part of the iTV introduction will be navigating the traditional video distribution ecosystem including Studios, Networks, Broadcast Cable and Satellite Services, and deals with the HBOs, Blockbusters and Walmarts of the World. While we have made huge progress towards freeing content from the grips of tight fisted studios, we still have miles to go. Google with GoogleTV is testing the waters with Sony and the Android OS. Unlike Google, Apple loves making money on hardware and a TV is one big honkin’ piece of hardware.
Apple won’t care about stepping on some toes or creating some disruption but they will have to establish some deals with content owners and distributors to gain the full effect of entering the TV market.
So, stay tuned for Apple’s TV announcement. Of course they may have already decided not to enter the TV market in which case the space will be open for a new TV that does what Apple would do if it designed a TV.