Time for Apple to Make a TV

by Chris Seibold Dec 14, 2009

Before the Apple TV showed up there were rumors that Apple would make an actual TV, you know, with a screen and everything. That didn't happen, what Apple users got was a high priced, semi low-tech way to access the iTunes store. Giving the end user another way to buy stuff from Apple is a great idea, if you're Apple, but an unappealing idea if you're a consumer. For evidence that the Apple TV wasn't ready for the market take a look at the sales of the Apple TV. Calling the sales dismal is a complement. 

Perhaps consumers are missing the boat, maybe the Apple TV really is great and people just don't realize it. If you know someone who has an Apple TV they will earnestly tell you that the Apple TV beats the hell out of the video store (it does) but since video rental places are shutting down left and right, winning that battle is akin to being the best wooden ship in the age of ironclads.

I t must be admitted that the Apple TV is a lot better than hassling with a video store (even that redbox deal) but, like the cannonballs that bounced off the sides of the ironclads, beating the hassle of the video store is something consumers have already found another, non-Apple, way to do.

All the things you think the Apple TV is missing (automatic recording, DVD player, time shifting and so forth) are anachronistic. Those are the things the Apple TV needs to do to match (not beat) a TiVO. Does Apple really want to build the world's best TiVO replacement? Likely not, TiVOs get beat by the generic DVR that comes with your cable subscription. So forget about matching the capabilities of the TiVO, think about surpassing the capabilities of the newest internet-enabled TVs.

You've heard a little buzz about internet-enabled TVs, the idea being that your TV can access the internet and get videos from the sea of shows available online. That's niftier than time shifting shows (why shift when you can stream?) or recording shows (why bother recording a show that is already on a server somewhere?), and perhaps that is the direction Apple should be heading.

The argument against this idea would be one of acceptance. Will consumers really go to the trouble to hook their TVs up to the internet just to get some shows they can already get by tuning when CBS tells them to? No, this internet-enabled TV world is just not a big enough slice of the pie to make it worthwhile to Apple. After all, there are internet TVs out there and they aren't taking over the world.

Forget video for a moment and think audio. Before the iPod there were a slew of .mp3 players on the market and you probably heard their names: Nomad et al. But you also likely never actually saw one. No company that people trusted made a .mp3 player and no player had really caught on. The iPod came along and captured people's imagination (and their music collections) and not only turned into a huge seller for Apple, but it helped to change the entire music industry.

Some will wonder why Apple would choose to make an entire TV instead of just a box. A box will do everything the TV will and Apple wouldn't have to deal with screens and the sales people at the big box store. Makes sense, right? Forget the box, it is the cowards way out. Apple should produce a TV because every box is just one more problem between your wall and your eyes. You've got to get the TV on the right channel, hook up all the cables, find the second remote and so forth. When you're using a box you are asking for a hassle. Apple could get the whole thing just right. To invoke the iPod analogy again: People know there is content they can't access on their TV just like they knew that there was music on there computer they couldn't take with them. The iPod was a solution, a TV set made by Apple can be a solution as well.

Internet enabled TVs are at the same point as music players were before the introduction of the iPod. They exist but people don't really trust them. If Apple cranks out an internet enabled TV, couples it with some top notch Apple programming and ease of use Apple will have another huge hit on its hands. Imagine the demo, Steve Jobs standing on a stage saying: "Look at all this content you can get with a click of a remote!" Toss in a little industrial design from Ives and people will line up around the block to get on the IPTV train.**

Editors note: Please check out our series on the mythic tablet.



*That likely isn't entirely true, some providers charge you less if you have internet and cable service through them.


** For the tinfoil hats types out there yes Steve Jobs is the largest Disney shareholder and Disney does own ABC and a slew of cable channels so the thought that Steve would pass on the idea is plausible. But you have to ask yourself: Does Steve want to be a little richer or a little more revolutionary? 




  • The Apple TV built in to an Apple HDTV set makes sense to me. They have the LCD manufacturing contacts from all those Cinema Displays, laptops and iMacs. They have the perfect industrial design team to make the TV look sexy, as in B&) sexy rather than Samsung taking a standard design and making it 2” deep… and if they can sell the TV with all the Apple TV functionality included, suddenly you have an over-powered TV rather than an under-powered set top box.

    One caveat though: Will Steve really let an Apple product live/die on a local basis? I mean… digital terrestrial tuner in the US, Freeview tuner in the UK, and so on. There are numerous standards out there and Apple like to pick one and only one. This would mean we end up with a US-only TV, most likely. It’s like expecting them to create a digital radio… XFM or Sirius? Or DAB for Europe? That’s the one thing makes me think this might not happen.

    evilcat had this to say on Dec 15, 2009 Posts: 66
  • Apple will just buy Sony’s non-gaming consumer business, let Jony loose on the erstwhile Sony flat screens, and voila there’s your Apple TV with integrated TV!

    tundraboy had this to say on Dec 15, 2009 Posts: 132
  • I’ll take the opposite direction in my Apple TV wishes.

    Make AppleTV a software service (linked with iTunes of course) available on a variety of platforms

    1) Sell it inside an actual TV, as you suggest
    2) Sell it in a box, as they already do (AppleTV)
    3) Upgrade FrontRow… rename it “AppleTV”, and have it on every iTunes enabled computer (Mac & Windows).
    4) Make an AppleTV app for the iPhone & iPod Touch. Just plug the iPhone into the TV (via a dock+remote) and it’ll work just like an AppleTV. SD only for now.

    If Apple wants to make streaming high quality TV on demand - might as well have that work straight away on every iMac out there. Every iPhone. etc. They go from a niche TV-service to having a huge established hardware base.

    Apple doesn’t need to make a specific TV - but doing so might get it a LOT of attention which would translate into other AppleTV solutions & sales.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Dec 15, 2009 Posts: 228
  • I am too agree that Apple is the next generation form of watching tv at online. One can stream directly from Apple Ipod. Very few number of people that Apple really want to build the world’s best TiVO!!


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    curl had this to say on Nov 15, 2010 Posts: 2
  • Apple is an awesome company and i like its all products but i wonder that they did not create some tv and i want that they should give attention to this field also.
    Online tv live

    Danial123 had this to say on Feb 02, 2011 Posts: 1
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