There have been rumors and speculation regarding an Apple-flavored TV set for years, but over the last 6 months the gossip has really heated up. We’ve heard from pundits, analysts and even an ex Apple executive, that the product is underway.
But there have also been a lot of folks against the idea. And these neigh-sayers have several reasons why we won’t see a television set from the Cupertino company anytime soon.
So, who do you believe? As a tech writer, my initial reaction was skepticism. But the more I thought about it, the more the idea of an Apple-branded television seemed totally feasible…
The recent onslaught of TV rumors reminds me of the gossip that ensued prior to Apple launching the original iPhone. In fact, the constant chatter convinced me to buy some Apple stock in late 2006 (at $67 a share I might add). And there was similar talk in the months leading up to the infamous iPad announcement.
The point is, while most folks are quick to dismiss rumors as merely heresay, a lot of them tend to pan out. At least the big ones anyways. You don’t get dozens of people from all over the globe matching up details on a product that hasn’t been announced yet unless it, or the idea of it, exists.
If you are wondering why Apple would even want to get into making TV sets, just take a look at its recent history. The two products that come to mind are the iPhone and the iMac. With these creations, Apple discovered what was wrong with previous generations of the products and fixed it. No one wanted a smartphone because they were difficult to use, so Apple made the iPhone simple. And computers were scary and tricky to setup, so Apple built the all-in-one iMac with a single cord.
In an interview with AllThingsD last year, Steve Jobs talked about the issues with current TV technology. He mentioned that the problem was that consumers, in search of living room bliss, ended up with a cluster of boxes on top of their TVs, with a bunch of different UIs and remote controls. Why couldn’t Apple design an easy-to-use, all-in-one TV product with a single remote to solve the dilema? Better yet, why wouldn’t they?
The Apple Way
One of the main problems that analysts have with Apple building a TV is low profit margins. TVs are expensive to make, and are becoming increasingly cheaper to buy, so that doesn’t leave a lot of room for money-making (for example, an iPhone costs less than $200 to build, and sells for $650). But what they are missing is what has made Apple so successful. If the company ever decided to get into the TV industry, you better believe it will have covered all the angles.
That means that it wouldn’t be worried about issues like low profit margins, because there wouldn’t be any. Recently-named CEO Tim Cook, the mastermind behind Apple’s utopian-like supply chain, would figure out a way to manufacture TVs cheap enough to sell at a reasonable price and still make money. And you don’t have to look much further than the iPad to see evidence of that. Since its inception, the competition has been struggling to get their prices under the $499 tablet.
With Cook now at the helm, it’ll be interesting to see if Apple continues to be as aggressive with new products as it has been in the past. When Apple unveiled the iPod, it was venturing off into unknown territory. Same with the iPhone and the iPad. There was no way it could have known what a success those products would be, and it’ll take that same amount of guts to launch a TV set. Especially considering how saturated the market already is with sub $1000 HDTVs.
On top of that, the TV will need to be innovative enough to attract attention, and marketed well enough to attract customers. Both of which are questionable now that Steve Jobs is no longer running the show.
But not only do I think it’s possible, I believe it’s likely. Apple is currently sitting on a mountain of cash, and continues to dominate the MP3 player, smartphone, and tablet markets in terms of profitability.
So where does it go from here? Why not enter the TV market? The average US household has more TV sets that it does people. That sounds like a pretty solid industry to jump into if you ask me.
What’s your take on an Apple TV set? When do you think we’ll see it introduced? 2012?