It seems you can?t read about Apple these days without someone saying that they?re about to make a big splash into the television market. Apple, of course, hasn't and won't pre-announced anything. But that hasn't stopped Wall Street analysts claiming that the company?s TV strategy is flawed. That's right, Apple's unannounced, unreleased, entirely presumed by someone not-Apple, strategy is flawed. But I digress.
What I don?t quite understand is why so many industry pundits seem to think that Apple just has to make a TV set, or else they?re screwed. �Really people? �Really?
I can see why Apple would go ahead and make a large display for the living room. �But I definitely don?t see it as a requirement. �The actual display has become a commodity. �It?s an HDMI endpoint. �TV makers like Samsung are putting more computing power inside the displays to enable Netflix, Plex, or other media services. �But they?re largely just big screens and that?s it. �
Apple?s strength has been organizing content. �They tackled the music industry with more success than any other company on the planet. �They have essentially global distribution capabilities. �Now they?re starting to make progress with TV shows and movies by offering it up through the iTunes in the same a-la-carte manner. Their lead in these markets has to be mapped to be believed.�The $99 Apple TV even has premium sports features like NLH and Major League Baseball. �I think what Apple really needs to do is bring more content into its platform and then make it easy to display it anywhere - from the iPhone to the iPad to the Macbook or big screen.
Apple already has AirPlay to bring any video from pretty much any other Apple device to a big screen. �It seems to me the cheap and cheerful Apple TV doesn?t need to turn into a huge display. �It just needs to get even better. �Guy English wrote a wonderful blog post discussing how he sees the ideal future Apple TV setup and I have to say I agree completely. �
For a while now I?ve been of the opinion that display technology is expensive and slow changing. �But the intelligence inside the displays changes quickly. �A few years ago TVs didn?t come standard with Wi-Fi, nor did they have USB ports that would play DivX files, for example. �Why should I need to buy a whole new TV when the part that needs updating could be in the form of a $99 box (like the current Apple TV)? �Exactly.
So Apple should beef up its current Apple TV set top box. �But then if they want to go ahead and make the most beautiful, well designed 1080p or even 4K display in the universe -- a larger version of the ThunderBolt displays they already make for the Mac -- I will welcome it. �And if they want to go one step better, I?d love to see an Apple living room display that can elegantly hold an upgradeable Apple TV module. �No need for extra cables and boxes, right? �
But one thing is clear to me. �Apple doesn?t ?need? to be in the living room display business. �They won?t be reinventing the display, they?d just be capitalizing on their design strengths and brand value. �I?d be all for that as a shareholder. �But don?t try to tell me that Apple has no growth unless they explode onto the TV scene. �That?s just a bunch of nonsense. �They real money is going to come from content, billing, the beauty of their ecosystem, and customer stickiness. �
Building a giant screen is a nice to have, and nothing more.