back to article Should Apple enter the flat TV market?

In February 2009, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said what we were all thinking: that if Apple is a part of the consumer electronics market, why doesn’t it produce a TV with Apple TV (and a DVR) incorporated? The first time Faultline predicted this was a full two years earlier, but we’re not followed quite as assiduously as …

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Screen Resolution

"The fact that the larger Apple Mac screens already have the quality and size – and that the LCD panels are just the same – seems to have escaped him."

Surely this isn't quite right. My 27" iMac has a resolution of 2560 x 1440, which is much higher than the 1920 x 1080 resolution of my 32" LG TV.

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Anonymous Coward

#Screen Resolution

>My 27" iMac has a resolution of 2560 x 1440, which is much higher than the 1920 x 1080 resolution of my 32" LG TV.

Its LG who make the 27" iMac displays........ hardly any consumer appliances put out even 1080p, so it wouldn't be worth parting with the cash for most TV buyers.

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Pint

Thoughts..

This is a new story? Ah well, I'll bite.

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From Gene Munster's Profile: His coverage includes Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, Baidu, and MercadoLibre. In addition, Munster has covered the Digital Media space since 1995, including Apple.

So, Apple is not one of his normal coverage areas....and when he does cover them, he covers their digital media aspect, NOT their desktop market? Thus meaning his knowledge of their desktops has to be slim, except noticing the Apple logo and saying, "Look! A Mac!"

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"Not according to Munster though, on his hobby horse again, saying that Apple is still thinking of rolling out a connected Apple TV. "

NOT according to him? Then, according to who? And what actual, named sources then?

"This time he quotes some Far East Taiwanese sources who say that Apple is in the market buying big TV class LCD screens."

So, then, this IS according to him?! You're really losing me! And, maybe they're upping the iMac size again?

"The fact that the larger Apple Mac screens already have the quality and size – and that the LCD panels are just the same – seems to have escaped him."

Wow, a bit arrogant. And wrong, mind you. Not in the past 5 years has 21.5 or 27 inches been the norm for TV-class screen purchases. In case you haven't noticed....(whisper) they've gotten a bit bigger.

Have you even seen a Mac up close before? Or is it something you see on TV in the Aussie Outback? Wild creatures...It's got SHARP FANGS....

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Focus please

Apple's key to the home is AirPlay with an IOS device as controller e.g. a DVD player with AirPlay and an IOS app for the UI. You don't encourage widespread support by consumer boxes if you plough straight in and deliver one of them yourself, especially the dumbest, most generic part of the system. In Apple's world a TV is a monitor, nothing else.

Frankly I can't wait to exchange my (beloved) Humax freeview hard disk recorder for one that wirelessly streams with a nice app for the UI.

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Grenade

But

Munster is an arse who's been banging on about this for years. It's about as wrong as his other predictions. And that's very wrong.

Rethink aren't very different either.

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WTF?

What's more

An Apple 27" monitor sans HDMI or HDCP costs a tad over 900 quid. You can get any number of brand name 26" TVs for 250-ish. OK, they're nowhere near the res but there's no point to anything over 1080p in a TV set anyway. For the price Apple charge for a 27" monitor you can get a top of the range 50" TV.

So no, Apple aren't going to be getting into the TV market just because they make a big monitor. Maybe the analyst in question should spend more time analysing and less time just making stuff up?

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Gold badge

What we need is this

Rather than companies all producing stupid external boxes, can't they agree a standard connector so at the back of a TV you can attach a box to your flatscreen?

Imagine this, you buy a module that slides into a connector in your flatscreen that provides power and audio/video connections, as well as control signals. You then secure the box into the TV using some thumbscrews (like on DVI/VGA connectors). You then switch on the TV and the box is controlled with the existing remote your TV has.

Why can't this be a reality? it would make life easier! It would also mean you could upgrade your TV tuner without needing an external box (something I'm sure those with non-HD capable freeview TVs will appreciate).

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wim

But

then you would not be being a new TV whenever something news comes out and thus you would not create economic value and stop being patriotic because everybody knows you have to consume as much as you can to help the economy recover.

What you suggest is way to logical and practical and money saving to ever happen.

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HDMI CEC anyone?

Look at the HDMI spec and pin 13 labelled CEC or Consumer Electronics Control .. looks like a lot of potential ... the major limitation with HDMI seems to be the +5v 50mA on pin 18, not enough to power much, just enough to wake the device up.

Personally I like the Apple TV2 approach .. its is amazingly tiny and if you use the Wireless N interface then you only need the power lead and HDMI connection plugged in to get full functionality (okay only 720p 8-) .. for a "hobby" device it is extremely professional and I can't wait to see it added to the App Store in the near future.

I don't see the point in Apple bothering with TVs themselves, they don't need to and they would not sell enough to justify the investment.

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Silver badge
Linux

External boxes

> Rather than companies all producing stupid

> external boxes, can't they agree a standard

> connector so at the back of a TV you can

> attach a box to your flatscreen?

Yes. That's called HDMI.

Alternately, there are standards for mounting brackets for both mounting a TV to a wall or mounting a set top box to the back of the TV. My last ION nettop came with such a bracket.

OTOH, I have another nettop mounted to a 32 inch TV with velcro. Apple TV's are tiny. You could probably mount those to a wall or backside of a TV with double sided sticky tape.

Now, the problem with integrating all of your HTPC type stuff directly into the TV is the fact that technology changes and a lot of it is still pretty raw and you don't really want to dump a $600 or $5000 TV over a stupid $100 box.

I good monitor can outlive generations of external boxes (which is why the iMac approach to system design is a bit dumb).

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Gold badge

Better standards required

I don't think consumers complain enough, if they did then there would be better planning.

Can you imagine a computer market where there wasn't USB, PCI express, SATA and so on?

I do all my viewing via a Mac Mini with a mini bluetooth keyboard. The TV remote does two things, switches on/off the TV and changes the volume.

Going back to boxes, many people buy an integrated TV as they don't want external boxes. If the boxes are out of sight and integrate well then they would go for Freeview HD in no time.

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Bronze badge
Joke

iRecliners too

Steve is building his retirement home and it involves a lot of TVs.

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Why bother?

TV manufacture is a license and patent encumbered minefield, not to mention regulation issues, differences in TV connections and requirements by nation, etc.

There are hundreds TV models from dozens of companies, and Apple bringing an AIO TV system to market is simply pointless. They're much better able to compete by making a simple unit that can add their functionality to ANY TV, instead of making one themselves, and dealing with the sales, support, ad service of them. Its a thin profit and highly competitive market, ad they would be a small player.

No, what they need to do is continue with ATV systems for a short while, adding HDMI 1.4 support to the next generation, allowing it to become an in-line device instead of a standalone unit. The next gen, the FCC should have successfully mandated a more open TV platform and tuning system (the successor to Tru-2-way and CableCard), and then ATV4 could BE your set top box, and be a DVR. (and ATV3 is rumored to be a basic game console as well based on leaked iOS 4.3 data for the next ATV ROM).

Apple doesn't need to make TVs to bring appel to your TV. TVs are very personal devices, and have a massive range of quality and price, but we expect anything we buy to work with them. We also typically expect 10+ year life out of them, some people even more. (I have 2 TVs now over 15 years old). Embed iOS inside the TV, and they become difficulty ad expensive to replace, or fall behind in support requiring an external unit eventually anyway as opposed to simlpe external units that can be moved and upgraded separate from the TV and used with any TV.

Apple has no business making TVs, they have a job to improve the TV experience.

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An Apple HDTV?

Gene Munster is never right about anything, he's so completely out of the loop at Apple, I believe that most knowledgeable Apple investors wonder how he keeps a job.

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Why?

Why would Apple build a $1000 Apple TV when they can add what they want to the TV experience with a $100 box?

TVs are expensive commodity items with stiff competition and thin margins. I doubt the margins are especially large on the Apple TV 2, but the risk is lower, and it takes care of the important job: Add more value to the iTunes store and iDevices.

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Stop

...Because Apple can't add much to the TV watching experience?

The Apple TV (box) was a good idea. It lets you stream, has the nicest, slickest interface out of any TV-attached device, and is affordable to pretty much everyone who already has a TV set. It's able to add a lot of value for a modest outlay, if you run your media from iTunes. It's not designed to replace your TV, it's designed to supplement it by drawing content from other sources. These are its key selling points.

What would an Apple TV (screen) bring? I can't think of anything, beyond a few nice interfaces, that Apple could bring to the experience. A flashy touchscreen iTouch remote perhaps? Better EPG? I honestly can't think of anything significant, because the act of sitting down and watching the telly is a passive, hands-off experience. The iPhone became the biggest cash cow for Apple because it became a fun to use, hands-on app platform that its users love to interact with. The iPad filled the tablet equivalent, niche as it is. A TV? You switch it on and try (for myself, in vain) to find something worth watching. Then you usually turn it off after a while.

There's no fundamental direction that the way we interact with our TVs is changing, nor do I believe one is imminent. They're crap for browsing the web on because you sit too far away from them and can't read the text without magnifying them to buggery, and you need a keyboard to type in addresses. You can't interact with them by touchscreen, because the technology doesn't exist and wouldn't be appropriate for something huge that you'd spend ages removing the fingerprints from. The lack of enthusiasm for touchscreen PCs has shown this even closer to home. Apps are one possible avenue, but how do you interact with them without some fancy remote? And how do you scale them up to your TV's resolution?

Remember that it took ten years for phones to evolve into flexible mobile devices before Apple came along and applied their usability magic. But the evolution of a big TV is, I'm afraid, a big iMac. Which, I should add, they already produce.

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Coat

I see a potential problem...

What about when I get no TV signal cause I'm holding the remote the wrong way?

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Flame

I for one welcome our Cupertino overlords

As long as they bury Cisco/Scientific Atlanta's bastard cable boxes as they do it.

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Silver badge
Jobs Halo

Watch as I pull a rabbit out of my hat.

"Can you imagine Apple trying to convince Comcast that it was okay to connect cable service to a TV set that tried to compete with the core cable offering?"

Well, before the iphone people were saying the exact same thing about the chances of apple ever convincing a major telco to sell phones that allowed apple to completely control the whole user experience (updates, apps, services) without the telco taking a cut.

Remember that before the iphone every single telco was enamoured with the idea of offering "value added internet and services" (at extra cost to consumers of course) and were intent on "differentiating" their *networks* through controlling and/or customising all the handsets they offered.

People laughed at the idea that apple would be able to sell a phone to the AT&T's of the world without handing complete control over to the network operator along with it.

After all, that is how they had *always* done business in the past. Nokia in particular did very well out of the arrangement (until apple came along and ate their lunch of course).

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Silver badge

but wait,

I never did laugh them off, because the "value added" services where never their bread and butter. The techies I knew who wanted things on their phone, installed them from their computer. The non-techs never bothered to change their phone. The only ones who did where teenie-boppers who have no concept of their parent's money. They probibly make more off the data tarrifs now then they ever did before.

OTOH, A cable TV company's core bussness is still.... wait for it.... cable TV. I already have the cable company badgering me once a month because I wont by anthing but internet. I suspect that if they loose more clients to the likes of Netflix, Hulu, et al. They will be starting to sound like the print newspapers.

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Silver badge

There's more

"the "value added" services where never their bread and butter"

The one thing that telco's fear more than anything else is being turned (even further) towards being bit schlepping utilities. The "value added services" malarkey was their great hope to create a market where they can lock in customers and charge a premium for services instead of competing with every other ISP in a race to the bottom with nothing to differentiate them from the rest other than price.

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Anonymous Coward

Meh...

I've already had ITV for years.

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