Apple Will Definitely Make a Proper Television

apple htdtv mockup

I’ve been against the idea that Apple would ever get into the TV biz — it just never made sense financially with all the competition and product sourcing. Now, I think it’s their only way to enter the connected TV space. The reason I say this is because I can’t imagine an Apple TV app sharing a spot in a TV app database like LG’s NetCast (who recently added PLEX to the mix) or Sony’s BRAVIA Internet Video offering. It goes against the whole Apple ethos and tarnishes the brand. What’s more, having a proper television that Apple controls will allow it to bypass the set-top box — one of Steve’s primary complaints — to control how it provides programming data via CableCARD (or something better) to its users à la Google TV.

lg netcast demo at ifa 2010

The drawbacks in this scenario, however, is that the TV will be priced higher than competing products, profit margins will be tiny compared to what Apple is accustomed to getting with its iDevices, and Apple will have to restrict which TV provider one can use with their televisions (sort of like that AT&T + iPhone exclusivity deal) in order to provide the best experience. I’m still also having trouble seeing how Apple plans on persuading users to upgrade their Apple television sets every few years on such a big ticket item. But, hey... I’m not saying it can’t be done. It will most likely only happen with a small percentage of its base.

apple ipad store purchase photo credit sergiocapitano

Speaking of Apple’s base… they are probably going to be the first adopters and the majority of purchasers, if the iPad is any indication of behavior when it comes to purchasing an Apple branded high-end device that is more of luxury item than a necessity.

So what do you think? Agree or do you believe Apple will bite the bullet and allow third parties to integrate Apple TV on their hardware?

Aside: If you’re looking for proof Apple will get into the TV biz, see today’s news regarding Apple’s recent technology patent for a two-mode LCD TV. Here’s another piece of the TV puzzle (9/20/2010) Apple Partners with Rovi.

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Filed in: Industry Buzz, Streaming Media Devices

  • andrewmclaughlin

    How do you define a TV these days? I contend that the Apple 24″ iMac is already a “TV” in as much as you can use it as a monitor. So the question isn't whether they will create a TV, it's more, will they sell a pimped up Mac that also has HDMI inputs for use as a monitor? Or will they embed the aTV functionality into their “Monitors”? But I don't think we'll see Apple create a full fledge “TV” that doesn't have some tie back to a PC or core Apple product.

  • andrewmclaughlin

    As for your question, what is stopping any manufacturer from just cramming the guts of an aTV into their sets and hardwireing it to an aTV input. But I do think that we will see some sort of OEM integration here; but perhaps on the whole AirStream side of things.

  • Alexander Grundner

    That's not what I mean. An example of what I mean is what LG has done with integrating PLEX as a TV app. I could see the Apple TV platform being integrated in the same way, but, like I said, I can't see Apple being interested in going that route — or licensing the Apple TV platform for use as the primary interface for a set-top box or a connected TV not their own.

  • Alexander Grundner

    Interesting take. Kind of sounds like what Apple was trying to accomplish with Front Row. Are they even working on that anymore?

  • andrewmclaughlin

    The best margin in the business is to have your software licensed on millions of devices. If Apple could force every TV, Stereo, Car Stereo to license its AirStream technology to accept a feed from an iPad /Pod / Phone you would have a serious revenue stream.

    The most amazing thing to me is how many options Apple has in front of itself in order to monitize their platforms.