One More Thing: The Apple Television
It has been rumored for years and years now, that Apple was working on a new television. Not just the box, like the Apple TV, that people hook up to their televisions, but a full on TV for the living room. Continually and inevitably, these rumors are squashed. The TV market is so competitive and entrenched, they say, that Apple doesn’t stand a chance. They are right, too, in that the TV market is competitive indeed, with any number of companies competing to be the screen in your living room.
It’s easy to believe them, too, what with Cupertino’s extremely modest success in terms of the Apple TV. While the product is in no way a flop, it doesn’t even compare to the Mac Mini in terms of how many the company sells on a regular basis. What so many forget, however, is that four years ago, the cell phone market was a saturated, hypercompetitive industry.
And then the iPhone happened.
With Steve Jobs passing on, rumors of the fabled Apple Television have been re-ignited, due largely to excerpts of his biography, out in stores today. Buried within the biography is a snippit of conversation that Jobs had with his biographer only recently, after news of iCloud had been announced.
“I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”
It’s easy to imagine what that might mean, in terms of products. Tied to your personal cloud, all the media you would want is right there. Instead of dealing with a remote control that needs physical buttons for every function on the device, you use your iOS-powered iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Listening to music? The screen only shows music controls. Streaming video? The remote might only have pause, play, rewind, fast forward and menu buttons on the screen.
As with so many of Apple’s other products, the time is ripe for a company that truly understands what consumers need in terms of a user interface to jump in and take the market by storm. That’s what they did with desktops, that’s what they did with smartphones, and that’s what they did with tablets. We don’t yet know if that’s what they’ll be doing with televisions – but if anyone is going to do it, it’s Apple – especially considering the recent failures of Google’s competing GoogleTV products.
Apple has acquired a number of companies to help them achieve such a product, too. Already the company makes and sells award-winning Apple Cinema Displays and Thunderbolt displays, so a television isn’t too far-fetched. There’s also the matter of an acquisition not too long ago that Apple filed to not make public.
They couldn’t tell the world, they said, because doing so would force them to lose a major competitive advantage. To this day, no one knows what technology it was that Apple acquired. Could it be related to making these paradigm-shaking televisions? It’s entirely possible.
The future looks bright
Despite the pall cast over the industry by Jobs’ recent passing, the future of Apple looks bright. The company is still wildly popular in almost every market they enter, and their latest release, the iPhone 4S, has shattered the records for first sales of a smartphone. It’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing, either, despite the ever-increasing competition from late entrants such as Android and Windows Phone.
Apple has this knack of doing the right thing at the right time, and for a while at least, doing it better than anyone else could hope. Apple after Jobs is going to be different – there’s no doubt about that. But Apple after Jobs is still going to be Apple – and that means they’re not even close to being done changing how we interact with technology each and every day.
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