New evidence points to Apple television sets in 2013
December 28, 2012 by Bill Palmer
by Bill Palmer
According to Mac OS Ken, whose sources I trust, Apple appears to be getting ready to build apps into the Apple TV. Or build a front end into Apple TV to steer users toward iPhone and iPad apps. Or something like that. This tells me that Apple is taking the first steps toward launching actual television sets. Why? Because until Apple does that, no one will give a damn about anything it does with Apple TV, and Apple certainly must know that by now…
Steve Jobs introduced h Apple TV about six years ago, and while there was a lot of initial hype about it within the geek beltway, mainstream consumers ultimately took a pass. Most don’t seem to know or care that it exists, and even among the few who are intrigued enough to ask, the idea of paying for a piece of hardware whose only purpose is to let them pay for content is just strange. Despite the fact that it’s now a sub-$100 product and has a vastly enhanced interface complete with tie-ins to Netflix and everything else under the sun, even most people who own one of Apple’s more successful have no idea that Apple TV exists.
That’ll change, if and when Apple begins selling its own television sets. Knowing Apple, they’ll be more elegant and more intuitive and better built and possibly more expensive than most other televisions on the market, and they’ll sell very well. But the point won’t be that Apple has found a way to improve upon television hardware. The key will be that each Apple television set sold will mean another Apple TV user, as the technology and the interface will be built right in. Overnight, the Apple TV platform will go from being “huh?” to being mainstream, with tens of millions of users. And for those who don’t want to replace their existing HD television with Apple’s HD television, the existing Apple TV box will go from being a non-entity to being seen as an inexpensive way to turn your regular television set into an Apple television set. It’s all about perception, really…
Jobs vaguely alluded in his biography to the fact that Apple has long term plans to make all of this happen with television. Since his passing, the question has been whether this is something Apple plans to pursue within the next year, or simply within the next decade. The revelation that Apple appears ready to begin expanding upon the Apple TV platform tells me that Apple televisions must be coming soon, because Apple knows that it can pour all the time and effort into the Apple TV box that it wants, and at the end of the day it’ll still be a mere niche that most people can’t understand as long as it’s only sold as a box and not as an actual television. So if Tim Cook and company are moving on Apple TV at all in 2013, that’s because they’re moving toward Apple televisions in 2013.
My friend Mac OS Ken disagrees, and thinks that it’s instead a sign that Apple is ready to make a push with Apple TV as it is. You can get his take on his latest episode.