They say where there is smoke there is fire. The unicorn known as the Apple TV, an actual television made by Apple has been a hot topic the past few months since Steve Jobs passed away. In the Isaacson penned biography, Jobs is quoted as saying he “cracked it,” referring to the Apple Television. However since that time there have been many naysayers claiming that Apple would never enter this market for a host of reasons.
1. People don’t upgrade their TV often enough for it to be a sustainable business.
2. If its anything like the tablet and phone industry the hardware evolution would move too fast for a device people kept 5-7 years as a TV would.
3. An Apple Television would need to get content deals not had by other television manufacturers.
4. There are already Smart TV’s out there with Operating Systems, apps, and widgets built in, how could Apple differentiate from those already on the market?
Ever since the iPad 2 and iOS 5 came out I’ve marveled at AirPlay Mirroring with my iPhone and iPad. It’s magic. Instead of the TV being a giant touchscreen, a slick touchscreen remote device (in this case an iPad/iPhone) controls the interface and content. Over WIFI AirPlay Mirroring works amazingly well.
So here is the deal, ever since the Amazon Kindle Fire came out people think Apple must release a smaller iPad at the risk of fragmentation to its app store. Here is where Apple turns the market upside down. I think that an Apple Television is coming and its coming sooner than people think. I believe they will release a television with a basic interface that is controlled by a new iOS Device called the iTV. The iTV is the remote that will ship with the Apple Television. It will have a 5” or 7” form factor with the 16:9 screen ratio that many Android tablets are shipping with. The iTV connects directly to the Apple Television as a mirroring device via BlueTooth or WIFI. It’s as if the TV is a touchscreen device, but instead of touching the TV you interact with the remote instead. There will not be any ridiculous keyboards for inputting with the TV. There will be an iTV app store on this device. There will be games and TV content apps in the store. It will use Apple Home Sharing to access music and video content from your Mac Computers. Apple will update the hardware each year where you only have to buy a new remote, not a new television. It will allow games to get more sophisticated over time and for the software and apps to be easily upgraded.
There is nothing quite like this on the market today. All current TV manufacturers are putting the OS on the TV itself with a ridiculous hardware button remote. Most of the time its clunky, slow, and difficult to upgrade. The iTV will be none of those things. You won’t find apps like iBooks on this device. It will be completely geared towards viewable media like TV, Music, and perhaps Photos via your Photostream. Apps like HBO Go, Watch ESPN, TNT, TBS, NBC, etc. will be the norm in native 16:9 formate on the device.
This solution answers most if not all of the “why Apple won’t do it” bullet points listed above. So when does it come out? They could pivot here and instead of releasing the TV they could release a new box or small dongle plug-in that communicates with the iTV touchscreen remote. Or the Apple TV could be a Newsstand like folder on all iOS devices where media apps would live. Then anyone with iOS device could get Apple TV. They would still just need to get the box. But it is my belief that a 16:9 tablet would be a great remote and a new device by Apple that could once again redefine the industry. Insanely great.