back to article Apple flat-screen TV rumor rises yet again

A perennial Apple rumor is making the rounds yet again: that Cupertino is preparing to launch its own flat-screen TV. If you've been reading The Reg for any amount of time, you have heard that prediction before – and the source has often been Piper Jaffrey analyst Gene Munster. Well, Munster is back with another Apple-branded …

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Silver badge

How much truth in this?

I would be surprised if someone in Cupertino wasn't working on such a thing. Of course, we already have an Apple TV product, but nobody queued down the street for it when it was released.

I would be interested to know how you can add an interface for live broadcast TV and keep the simplicity Apple is known for. No doubt at some point someone will show me why the top people at Apple are millionaires and I'm not.

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A reasonable amount

Steve has been known to fiddle about with TV for some time he's been known to be unhappy with TV interfaces for some time so the idea that he's working on a TV isn't too silly.

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Anonymous Coward

Hi Chad

Punctuation is your friend.

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he who bothers to complain only about punctuation...

...obviously has nothing worthwhile to say.

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iTV

What a shame ITV is already taken. Lawyers, on your marks...

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Meh

Didn't stop them using iOS, albeit with Cisco's agreement.

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FAIL

ARG!

you stole my joke!

ITV, what a gag!

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Silver badge

didn't....

we do this joke to death a few years ago?

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Boffin

I'm a sceptic - content deals are hard slow and leaky

Apple won't make a TV as we currently know it with digital tuners, passing the approvals for Freeview and equivalent services elsewhere is a massive effort and would have left a trail of job ads. It would also complicate the UI.

If they go ahead it would be a pure IP and HDMI (and Displayport) device. This would really need an IP based service suitable to replace basic television including at least some live news services.

It's just about plausible that they might get a US content deal of that sort in place but I think that they will have a full suite of global services in place quickly at least if going direct to channels/service owners. It might be easier to do the deals with the pay TV operators but they will be hard to persuade to give up control of the user interfaces for their services. I don't think it would be possible for most companies but Apple did manage it with the iPhone and the telcos.

The other issue is that it is very hard to make money in the TV selling business and while Apple would do better than everyone else it still might be tough without their usual strong position in acquiring parts.

It would extend the war with Samsung (this may make it more likely rather than less) as they are the massive global leader in the TV business and they make tough competition. On cosmetic design at least I don't think that there is room for Apple to jump significantly beyond them although the user interface has a lot of room for improvement especially if they ditch complications like digital TV and the various interactive platforms.

I would actually expect them to move most or all of the user interface off the TV screen itself and onto a handheld device (probably iPad).

Having said all that I still think it isn't likely to happen at least very profitably although I don't completely rule it out if they decide to spend a few billion hurting Samsung.

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Boffin

The thing is, that what you have just described - a flat panel, all-in-one device, with no TV tuner, is essentially just an iMac.

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Thumb Up

These things take a lot of time to develop

Apple was working on iPhone for 4+ years before they released it, there were rumors about an Apple phone for years but no one really knew what it was going to be. Many conceptual drawings showed it with an ipad clickwheel along with the inevitable numeric keypad. What is now an "obvious" interface for a smartphone was hard to imagine until Apple created something that simplified a smartphone enough for normal people to want one.

So the rumors about a TV running for a few years before a product comes out is reasonable, it is only quick to do if they make a regular TV set, slap an Apple logo on it and a mark up the price. So think about what is complicated with today's TVs for normal people? (keep in mind almost everyone reading this is not a "normal person" by my definition, i.e. we know how to wire up a TV along with a DVD player, DVR, games console and external speakers without reading the manual or calling Geek Squad)

Three things spring to mind. One connectivity - getting everything wired up properly. Two - figuring out what the hell is on when channel surfing and when recording. Three - having a bunch of remotes, or if those normal people have help from one us, having one remote programmed to control most but not all of everything your big collection does (if they can be bothered to remember that the TV won't power off if they've accidentally pressed the 'cable' button on the remote first)

HDMI helped a lot on the connectivity front, at least if you don't have any hardware older than a few years which lacks it, and sufficient inputs on your TV (you're just left with the problem of remember what is hooked up to HDMI 1, 2, 3 etc.) One never-used capability of HDMI is the CEC functionality that transmits remote control commands between pieces of equipment. It is almost certain Apple will make use of this to have the TV maintain complete control over everything plugged into it. How does it know how to control an arbitrary piece of equipment? There's an app for that! No app means no Apple TV owners buying your products, so the incentive will be there for makers of stuff like DVRs and Blu Ray players to create an app (more of a driver or interface definition file in this case, but they'll probably call it an app since "drivers" have scary connotations for people who have used Windows)

With the Apple TV controlling your Blu Ray player and cable box/DVR (it probably won't mess with your PS3 or XBox much, other than turn it on/off, while automatically selecting the appropriate HDMI input when turned on) they can put any pretty Apple like interface they want to paper over the shitty broken interfaces most of those products have. Imagine a Tivo you can talk to and say "record all new episodes of 30 Rock". Or even better, "next time that episode of 30 Rock that was on two weeks ago Thursday that I forgot to record re-airs, record it" (try that with a Tivo!) Of course this would be Tivo without the monthly fee! Apple could make every crappy cableco DVR a Tivo by having iCloud intelligence help it decide what to record in much the same way Tivo does (hopefully doing it better, otherwise I'll turn that crap like I do on my Tivo, but I know some people really this feature of Tivo)

Or they could and likely would go much further, securing deals with the major US networks and cable companies allowing them to "record" anything you already have access to. By recording I mean updating a few bytes in your iTunes TV profile out on iCloud saying that you recorded that program, not actually recording it since your TV would have no local storage....and you may just have a regular cable box rather than a DVR. You'd have it recorded even if your power was out at the time or it was repeatedly preempted by hours of afternoon weather updates about tornado warnings (those in the US midwest know what I'm talking about) Then you could watch it by streaming a pristine copy off iCloud, presumably even from your iPad when you are not at home (though that may be something even Steve Jobs couldn't negotiate) It makes sense, there's no reason why everyone needs their own hard drive with a separate copy of a program. If you could have recorded it, let's just take it as read that you did so but instead link you to acopy of the recording stored in the cloud. One which could, given suitable arrangements between Apple, the networks and their advertisers, potentially show ads more relevant to you rather than whatever was broadcast at the time. So old people won't see ads for diapers, and college students won't see ads for arthitis medications. In order to be saleable it would allow skipping ads as normal, but since studies show only half the people skip ads on DVRs now, this wouldn't be a big deal. And there's always the theory that people are less likely to skip ads that may be more relevant to them.

If we get something like this, it'll be US only at first just like iPhone was, and Apple would count on customer demand to get them the appropriate deals with networks in other countries just like how they bent over the cellular companies in Europe after doing so with AT&T in the US first.

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Bronze badge

Interesting...

Sounds a bit like Apple working/managing/brokering TV as a library, with each show divisible into chapters, with the ads in between those... Sucks up time-shfting in a big way.

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Pint

'One never-used capability of HDMI is the CEC functionality that transmits remote control commands between pieces of equipment.'

That's funny, I use said functionality almost every day with my Samsung equipment and have done for a year or two. Comes in very useful when the other half has filed one of the remotes!

Pint because it's Tuesday and there is too much week left :(

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Silver badge
WTF?

According to wikipedia the iphone development began in 2005, which sounds about right for multi-touch etc. The interface was fairly obvious after near-full screen smartphones came out a few years prior to that.

I didn't bother reading the rest.

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Craig - "according to Wikipedia"

I stopped reading at that point.

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Gord

DougS lists no source (and is not aware of pre-existing devices with large touchscreens). I don't necessarily accept wikipedia's claims (although they do link to a source), but I do reject DougS'.

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Anonymous Coward

cannot afford not to

Apple is a consumer electronics company first and foremost. With the shift towards content consumption via your tv (smart tv etc etc), Apple can't afford to not make a tv; it will probably be different (and shiny and new and great and better and hence compelling and fanboi-friendly) to what we think of as a tv now.

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Trollface

siri controlled tv

Does that mean that anything that anyone says on the TV would get interpreted as a command by Siri?

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Worse, when your babbling idiotic mother-in-law walks into the room as your favorite NFL team starts a two-minute drive down by four, will all her inanity be translated to "UTTER BS" and the whole TV system will only show things involving Simon Cowell and MSNBC?

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err

This is the register. We either a) don't know what an NFL is or b) Consider the amount of padding used in that form of football to be evidence of wimpy players.

The net result is the same - we don't have favourite NFL teams.

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Coat

Conversing with a television is a wee bit too dystopian for our sensibilities.

I shout at mine.

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Silver badge

So do I, but in my defence it does keep finishing the milk.

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Meh

Yeah, right.

> 'It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices"

But only all your _Apple_ devices, I'll bet. The chances of it supporting the playback of media from SMB shares and DLNA/UPnP servers, etc. will be slim-to-none.

That's anyway my experience with the current AppleTV box. Thankfully I have a WD TV Live and a Popcorn Hour (on different TVs!) to do the useful stuff.

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Thumb Down

In my experience, DLNA is useless

Both my Samsung TV and my PS3 support it, but I would much prefer to just browse and play the files over SMB.

The TV is really keen to use DLNA but quite often it crashes in use. When you play back video search is not supported, so if you miss a bit the only option is to restart playback from the beginning - not very convenient.

I have a fairly modest music collection of about 8000 files but any time I even try to enter the music section on TV/PS3 it hangs up for about 5 minutes before it crashes.

Before I got all this snazzy modern machinery I played music and video off the server by using an old laptop and winamp, which worked fine for me since 1997... So I fail to see the reason to 'fix' something that wasn't broken by introducing an unnecessarily complicated new protocol?

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Anonymous Coward

So that would be....

a 40 inch TV which will only work with iTunes on a Mac, costs £7,000 but looks very nice.

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Trollface

Apple invents the flatscreen TV?

Bans Samsung TV's all across the world.

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Anonymous Coward

If Apple were not working on a TV I would be very surprised - it's hardly a massive leap to integrate their Apple TV box with a larger flatscreen and add a mic for Siri voice control? I'm actually surprised it's not already out...

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Silver badge

Content

Is it really that Apple couldn't work out how to make a TV, or is it that they couldn't work out how to own the content?

As for the interface, that's simple. Apple makes everything look like a real-world product - even its maps have a folded down corner as if they're supposed to be made of paper. So, for the TV interface all they need is a picture of a remote control on the tv, and there you go. It's a simple enough interface that billions of TVs have been sold with it, but putting it on a screen will be so innovative that people will forget that anything like it had ever been done before. Soon they will be able to get courts to ban remote controls, and then every media company on the planet will pay 30% of revenue to Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe Apple will store asll the content on iCloud and make TV (finally) 'on demand' - never understand why people watch TV to the schedules. I usually record (Sky) and watch when I want to.

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Yawn

More Apple rumours of things that will not happen as expected.

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Facepalm

Oh, time to 'invent' another new product

Apple puts Television into white case, adds Fisher Price interface for idiot consumers who are to stupid to record a program.

And in 10 years time we'll have Stephen Fry and various other weeping mendicants telling us how Jobs invented the TV.

"Jobs then invented a magical and revolutionary device for beaming content *directly* into your living room! Via a magic mirror! And that's not all, you could change this 'image' to suit your viewing tastes!"

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3d tv on apple?

I think this tv sounds great.

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