Apple ‘more in tune’ with TVs than set-top box biz

Wall Street investors are among those intensely interested in Apple CEO Tim Cook’s remark that the iPad maker has “intense interest” in doing something about television. One observer believes Apple wants its logo on the king of the hill, top of the heap when it comes to consumer electronics: the television set. The company has never been one to work around the edges of an industry.

That’s why a Wells Fargo Securities analyst expects Apple to forgo a predicted set-top box and instead go for a full-blown Apple TV, calling it the “centerpiece of the living room”

Analyst Maynard Um writes in a Friday note to investors, as reported by AppleInsider:

While CEO Tim Cook did not outright state it would release a television set, his indication that it was ‘an area of intense interest’ suggests, to us, that Apple will eventually enter this market and round out the fourth and only missing screen in its ecosystem.

The firm already has a piece of the computer, phone and tablet market.

Um’s note contradicts an August report by the Wall Street Journal which claimed Apple was mulling over the idea of a set-top box that had an interface similar to iOS and used cloud storage for a DVR.

Um believes Siri could be a selling point for an Apple TV. This isn’t the first time the voice-activated application has been mentioned in connection with a planned television.

More than a year ago, the New York Times claimed Apple would use Siri to power its TV dreams. In November, inveterate Apple TV predictor Gene Munster opined that Apple will unveil a TV set in 2013 both with Siri and FaceTime.

But, wait.

There’s that nagging problem of getting content providers to fall into line – something even Apple admits is a deal-breaker.

Because of this little stumbling block, Um forecasts an Apple television set won’t be announced until the second-half of 2013, or in 2014.

While an Apple television set in your front room, gleaming white and souped-up with Siri, would be a great present for consumers and investors, alike, it is probably just one of those nice pipe-dreams.

Dealing with Hollywood and New York for rights to network video content would be the mother of all licensing negotiations, making the iTunes battle a game of tiddlywinks.

Secondly, the market for television sets is so commoditized as making a $1,000+ TV impractical. Throw in an economy on life-support and you have little chance of rational-thinking Apple introducing a television in 2013.

What about later, like 2014, as Um suggests?


There are some reasons why a television with Apple’s logo could materialize. Television viewers are increasingly turning off the networks and watching Netflix or YouTube. While this trend is mostly among the young, the demographic is also prized by advertisers.

Could an Apple TV shore up the audience for networks?

Apple has accomplished industry turn-arounds in the midst of trying times.

The iPhone came along at a time when consumers were just starting to move from landlines to cell phones. Combining the flexibility of wireless with the patented convenience of Apple design only accelerated the shift, turning cell phones into smart devices.

Is an Apple TV a crazy idea or just the latest product consumers didn’t know they needed – until now?

Note: lots more conceptual artwork depicting an iTV interface can be found here.