back to article Tim Cook’s 'One more thing': Apple TV rumor-stoker

Apple CEO Tim Cook has dropped the tiniest of hints about the company’s ongoing interest in televisions. Cook gave an interview to NBC's Brian Williams, portions of which can be seen here, in which he reportedly says, "When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years …

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Anonymous Coward

When I open a book I feel like I've gone back hundreds if not thousands of years, so what.

TV is what it is, moving pictures and passive, which is how most people want it to be.

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Retina display, looking like a work of art, what's not to like about it?

Oh bugger its about Apple isn't it.........

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Mushroom

See, this is where pissing off Samsung really comes home to roost.

This TV - I hope its doesn't infringe on the "trade dress", "look and feel", "whatever else asshole lawyers come up with" that Samsungs products of the last 15 years have had. In other words,, if it's anything other than a large black rectangular device showing moving pictures with sound, controllable via a remote, then its "I'll trade your piddling billion for ten times that" time.

Then again, Apple will probably once more just use the best court they can buy in Texas to claim TV is in fact their innovation, sue every other manufacturer not matter what their provenance, and bully other countries into banning every other TV but theirs.

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Re: See, this is where pissing off Samsung really comes home to roost.

There is room for TV UIs to improve. It wouldn't require anything too drastic, though. Even that £16,000 4K Sony set that RegHardware looked at lately was noted as having an unpolished UI.

I'm not sure that it would require a new TV, though... many, if not most people already have a set-top-box (cable, satellite, Blu-ray, network streamer), and tablets provide an easy way of browsing Electronic Programme Guides and VOD services

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Headmaster

Talking of Apple, surely apple pie is British originally?

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British...

Yup, first recipe was 1381!

Regards,

Shawn

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Re: British...

TV is too things:

A display device

A device to capture content from somewhere (cable, aerial, satellite dish) and present it to the display.

Historically, the first was the only bit that was interesting and the second was quite primitive. The problem is that nowadays, display devices are nothing special - I can pick up a 32" full-colour HD screen for next to nothing. Generally, we have lots of display devices, and one big on in the living room, and you can show what you like on it.

The device that decides what to show? Historically that was an RF circuit, but now that's generally a computer in some form. Sure, it might be a computer with a DVB-T2 card in it, but at the end of that day that's what it is.

So anything "smart" you might want to do with a TV, you can. There's really no restriction. If your TV can't already do it, plug your laptop into it and you have it. Or any computer. Or even a Raspberry Pi (which has HDMI output and runs a full X-Windows session with some 3D acceleration).

And in that arena, there are lots of people all doing precisely the same thing - even MythTV wasn't the first to do anything in that area, just the most popular if you were after an open-source program that ran on Linux.

And that's the problem - updating the TV is like updating your operating system now, or even installing a new app. Do I really need to buy a new TV just to get iPlayer on it? No. I can just buy a box that does iPlayer too. So would I need to buy an Apple box that does some-new-fancy-feature, or just find one that does something similar, or add the feature to my existing media setup?

I don't know what planet this guy is living in, but the last time I sat in front of a TV it could do everything from iPlayer to Skype to Opera to Twitter, to being a PVR, without having to pay a penny, do anything complicated, or require a new TV. I don't think we were doing that on our TV 20 years ago (20 years ago? 1992? I was in my teens, and we had a CRT with Sky Analogue and teletext, I think).

Just what are you going to do different that I can't emulate in a day of coding using any-old-LCD and a programmable set-top-box (i.e. laptop or MythTV box or hackable Freeview/Youview box?), or that your competitors can't emulate *officially* for their devices before you can finish the release announcement? And, not only that, but be so popular that it makes a miraculous "Apple launch" about it?

Sorry, I don't see it. My TV is a display device and nothing more. Everything else, I either don't want *MY* TV doing it (e.g. Skype etc.) or I could do it by plugging in a laptop or old desktop that you don't need to even see (and, hell, doesn't even need to be in the same room any more).

There's a TV above my head at the moment. I refer to it as the "digital signage" because that's apparently the term everyone wants to use. It's a bog-standard, £100, LCD TV with DLNA capability. It's plugged into the network here, and shows a rolling set of notices, pictures, etc. from a remote computer running Serviio on an images folder that we update whenever necessary.

A TV is a versatile display device. What it displays is whatever you want. Getting it to display something new that nobody has seen before? Good luck with that, because even if you could, the world would copy its functionality in a second, even with Apple-style patents on it, into every STB and media center software around.

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Re: British...

That's what I'd like from a tv. All it needs is a really good display, with sufficient ports that I can plug whatever boxes in to it I'd like. My current set is a Sony with their XMB UI, which is pretty good. It came with Freeview and Freesat built in, but both of those are superseded now. Most of my "smart" viewing is done via the PS3, either over interwebs, or streamed from my NAS.

Good picture, good sound, lots of ports. Nothing else required.

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Anonymous Coward

If Apple TV manages to remove all advertising it might be worth it.

(If I could pay per episode and get it at the same time as stuff air's in the US I might do it and get rid of Virgin Media which I never actually watch.)

Has to be quicker than it can be pulled from usenet. (So put up when the show starts in the US).

I would rather watch nothing than see even a single ad. (Or put up with any DRM whatsoever).

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"(Or put up with any DRM whatsoever)"

You'd be buggered then.

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I really couldn't give a shit

As per title.

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Anonymous Coward

Why?

Normal people buy a TV maybe once every ten or so years. There are a lot of players in that market, and margins are wafer thin. Also, TVs are not personal devices: nobody knows or cares what brand of TV you have at home.

This is not Apple's normal playground, and I wonder if they know the rules.

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So I guess the next question is what would Apple do in TV? A main TV 40+ inches? 3D? How smart would it be, OS X, iOS or not even that smart? Is 4K resolution safe to assume so it can virtualize an iPad in the corner PIP style? Heck given the recent articles the biggest game changer for TV would be if it were completely wireless like AT&T's uverse but with their new wireless iPower thingy. Oh, let's not forget iChat so grandma can interact with the little 'uns and various miscreants can watch you watch Spooks reruns in your skivvies.

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What would I do if I was running Apple's TV project

My guess is straight 1080P (it is a retina display at sufficient distance), control by iPad, no tuners (too much localisation work) so input by HDMI and Ethernet/Wifi only (no analogue inputs).

Content deals may be key for success and I suspect the online offer won't be sufficient (at least outside the US) to ditch local service providers for most people.

That's what I would do if was running Apple but it isn't going to be easy for them but it might hurt Samsung more than lawsuits will. Might finish off Panasonic, Sony, Sharp and Toshiba's TV businesses.

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Re: What would I do if I was running Apple's TV project

Joseph, I fully agree, building in tuners would require too much localisation.

However, then the problem for Apple is that the main interface people will use day-to-day is the cable/sat/freeview box - the only TV interaction will be volume, input select and occasional picture adjustments.

That means they're actually going up against the set-top box manufacturers. In this case, i would say its a much tougher fight for Apple - my Sky box's interface for example is much easier to use and more powerful than my TV interface - especially when its controlled by iPad.

Since the set-top boxes usually also control much of the content (Sky, Virgin) then i can't see the turkey's voting for Christmas by allowing Apple a slice of the cake.

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Coat

Re: What would I do if I was running Apple's TV project

"so input by HDMI and Ethernet/Wifi only (no analogue inputs)."

So would that me no more telly tax, then?

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Re: What would I do if I was running Apple's TV project

Quote: 'tuners (too much localisation work) so input by HDMI'

Yeah HDMI I'm certain that apple wont ditch that for their own proprietary connection then sell you a $100 adapter.

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Re: What would I do if I was running Apple's TV project @ bigiain

It's telling that the comparison that you make shows Sky as having a better UI that your telly. Sky (UK) is a closed system where not only do they mandate the UI for a Sky (UK) STB, but they also control the broadcast and are able to include private data in the DVB SI stream.

When you compare a Sky box with a generic DVB-S/S2 receiver, there is a world of difference in usability. I have both a Sky+ box and a Humax FreeSat box. The Humax box is interesting, but it's slow and complex. It also has basic problems like I have to read small text on the remote control to be able to operate the UI - that means I need my reading glasses to see the remote, but I don't need them to see the screen.

Apple's philosophy of removing flexibility from their devices in favour of usability follows exactly the same model as the Sky box so I'll be very interested to see how well they do. Especially as in my day job I have to try and create user interfaces for network based DVB receivers.

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Re: What would I do if I was running Apple's TV project

>Joseph, I fully agree, building in tuners would require too much localisation.

Tricky... if they take that approach, then why bother selling the screen? Samsung are experimenting with a half-way approach- TVs with replaceable modules. Who knows.

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@David Barrett

They already have ditched HDMI on some models, notably the Air. All it has is Thunderbolt(R) digital display output and yes, the cable is $50 which only goes to another Thunderbolt device so it wouldn't surprise me if one to HDMI wasn't $100. It looks like Apple thinks we're all just Scarmouche lining up to do the Fandango.

"Thunderbolt and lightning - very very frightening me - Galileo..."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @David Barrett

WRONG. People quote this sort of tripe without knowing the facts - it's bigotry.

Thunderbolt is also a mini display port connection and you can get loads of DVI, HDMI, VGA etc. adapters - or guess you wanted all of those plumbed into the 'Air' somehow. Plenty of Thunderbolt / mini display adapters on Amazon right now from a few pounds to about £15 - some ad adapters and some as complete cables.

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Re: @David Barrett

"People quote this sort of tripe without knowing the facts - it's bigotry."

Actually it isn't bigotry as I think you'll find that not knowing the facts is more often referred to as ignorance. As for tripe, it's fantastic in many preperations but my favorites are fried and braised.

But seriously AC, I went to the online Apple store figuring if anyone would have one it would be Apple. So I started here but there isn't a mini display port to HDMI listed so I checked the first one and there was no mention in the description that it worked with thunderbolt. One might think if it was compatible that Apple would actually tout that fact by adding a few letters to the description of the product, then again they said it would take weeks to update another page so maybe it's possible Apple is just bad at html.

Not finding anything specifically mentioning thunderbolt under "adapters" I tried "cables" and limited it to "Apple" products since I really didn't want to be bothered digging through Belkin's line of RCA audio cables and such. What I found was a straight thunderbolt cable for $49, a thunderbolt to ethernet adapter for $29 and a thunderbolt to firewire adapter also $29.

What I did not see was anything called a thunderbolt to HDMI adapter and frankly I found that odd since the first mini display port adapter I checked, which was to VGA, made absolutely no mention of thunderbolt compatibility and it also isn't mentioned on the this Air page and to top it off the MacBook Pro includes two thunderbolt ports and one HDMI port instead of three thunderbolt ports and an included adapter in the box.

It isn't like I didn't try to find out but they could make it easier to discover and yes that means putting a little note on every mini display port adapter1 and thunderbolt2 page as it isn't hard and I'd be happy, for a small fee, to write them a quick bash script to take care of it. Oh and before you go thinking I didn't dig deep enough just remember that neither will most people especially if they are just looking for a gift. Granted, as always, if I want to find out about Apple products I should have gone to Google firstlast tweak, I promise.

1 - thunderbolt compatible

2 - mini display port compatible

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Re: @David Barrett

Oh, one last thing AC. I actually do appreciate you pointing out the facts as it got me to dig a bit deeper into the thunderbolt tech and I will say the target display mode on an iMac is pretty sweet and certainly looks like a great candidate to be included into any TV Apple might produce. Although you could have done it without enough smugness to run a Pious for a year.

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Anonymous Coward

As American as...

Why did apple pie survive the great crossing out when hamburgers and pizza didn't?

If the pedantry was genuine, shouldn't you have settled on something actually American? As American as programmer murderers? Otherwise what's the point?

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Re: As American as...

Indeed, the apple isn't even native to the Americas: it was brought over by European colonists. There are documented recipes for apple pie in England that date back to around 1390, years before the Americas were originally colonised. So neither the apple, nor the pie, are even remotely "American".

Ironically, the Chicago-style "deep dish pizza" is an American invention. You will not find such pizzas in Italy. It's the Chicken Tikka Masala of pizzas.

"As American as pizza pie" would therefore be better than the utterly bizarre "...apple pie" version, but I can't help thinking that "As American as corn flakes" is better. (The more generic "breakfast cereal" doesn't work, thanks to the existence of both Scotland and porridge.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As American as...

Pumpkin pie!

As American as pumpkin pie.

Has the right sort of ring to it, seems fitting and is actually factually accurate... although not being a pie at all of course it also conveys profound stupidity... perfect?

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With or without netflix

Apple must be expected to learn from their Apple TV. Most I know are just netflix streaming boxes. Most folk simply don't wan to pay $1 per episode for other TV programs.

So Apple sell these boxes with a decent, but not great TV interface, and then can't monetize them.

So Apple will need a subscription TV service to be successful. That + a DVR that would need to come close to TiVo and you'd have something good, but still not revolutionary.

As others have said, TV margins are paper thin, so Apple will need to make money by selling folk stuff via their set. Of course there'll be apps - presumably games, since most other apps are predominantly single user and that's not how TVs are used.

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So little imagination amongst the commenttards today

I weep.

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Last weekend

I just bought a 46" top of the range 3D TV to replace my ageing 32" CRT.

I don't intend buying another TV for another 10 years.

I do hope Apple dont release a game changer....

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Happy

Re: Last weekend

I'd downvote you for jumping on the 3dtv bandwagon, but by the same token you already have enough problems.

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Alien

Re: Last weekend

>I do hope Apple dont release a game changer....<

Or what - you'll buy one?

(Er, if you do, can I buy yours? ;-)

I can just imagine an iTV (ITV UK can't sue because Apple use a little i and capital T /jk), it'll be like a giant iPad, only in 16:9 format. It won't have DVR - cause of the cloud natch, and you'll only be allowed to share video streams with other Apple devices, and yea, it'll be controllable by your iPhone or iPad or iPod. Inputs and outputs will be by the single lightening? connector and it'll be so locked down you'll feel like a resident of Guantanamo Bay. All the Hollywood media barons will love it as piracy will be impossible on the platform and sign up exclusively to its platform.

Apple will reign supreme and the other corporations will go to thermonuclear war against them with actual nuclear weapons and (in this scenario I would obviously be Googles bitch and footsoldier). except, of course, all this would only be happening in America, and the rest of the world would be pretty much business as normal, ie locking down the internet when the serfs act up.

Unless of course, December 21st...

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Re: Last weekend

>I'd downvote you for jumping on the 3dtv bandwagon, but by the same token you already have enough problems.

3D TVs are just normal TVs that can output at 120Hz, plus a cheap widget for synchronising with the goggles. Even before being sold as 3D tvs, most mid to high-end sets were capable of this. Being 3D was probably a side-effect of his choice of TV, not his primary consideration.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Last weekend

That's very kind. That downvote may have pushed him to suicide. I'm sure he and his family are forever in your debt.

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Anonymous Coward

They must have a poor choice of tvs in California

He can't be looking very hard. Looking in my local John Lewis the other day there were plenty of very nice looking TVs that would fit in very well in my lounge. Personally I was rather taken with the Samsungs with their chrome narrow bezels. I expect he probably doesn't allow them in his home! Or is Tim referring to the interfaces? In which case I still don't know what he is talking about - tvs are the simplest devices there are. Or is he talking about choice - again I'm not sure what he is going on about as I'm not short of stuff to watch. Unless he is going to be bringing out some high end tvs with iWatering prices to compete with the likes of bang and olufsen I think he is on a hiding to nothing.

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If we're talking about Apple selling home TV displays, what I've seen of the Thunderbolt Displays isn't reassuring (non-removable interface cabling means that a defective cable = replacing the entire display! YAAAAAAAAAAY!).

If we're talking about Apple selling a media centre box, it depends on how they propose to enter the market. There are already countless competitors in both hardware product and service provision here, and differentiating themselves won't be as simple as "access everything in the iTunes store". Even "content can be shared to any authorised iDevice" isn't going to be a compelling USP, given that it's becoming the norm across various platforms.

If they've actually got some innovative ideas to bring out, then I look forward to seeing them. I'm not yet convinced that's the case though, given the general nonsense that's been at the heart of their most recent hardware changes...

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FAIL

Missing a Trick

(C) Velv 2012, patent pending, all rights reserved, etc, etc.

Don't make TVs, make an interface that allows modules to be added that enhance functionality. Modules that plug in to slots in the TV (either internal as a manufacturer fit or external as aftermarket), not set top boxes that clutter the place and need their own power an cables. Then license it.

Imagine TVs sold with an Apple TV slot - think how may more Apple TV boxes you can ship each year as people can upgrade them every year - fanbois replace their iPad every year, but probably wouldn't replace the TV, but they would replace the modules if they could.

Making TVs will simply attract a small percentage of the market who are already of loyal customers (and maybe there's nothing wrong with that, they'll sell at a profit). An Apple Television will never be a mainstream product that the general public will opt for. Macs aren't "mainstream", PCs sell (fact, no emotion).

But if you could get your "module" into every TV in the world? World domination!

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Re: Missing a Trick

You're too late Velv, sorry! Samsung already make TVs with swap-in modules. Still, great minds think alike etc

"As was demonstrated at CES, the TV will feature a dual-core CPU that can be swapped out using an upgradable module in the future. Voice and gesture controls are also on board, although the picture quality is the real star of the show. Samsung say the TV has 20% better color reproduction that existing TVs, and the use of OLED means you’ll get true blacks and a near infinite contrast ratio."

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Complete vapourware....typical of El Reg to report on vapourware as long as its related to Cupertino. No wonder the IQ of your readers is so low.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple kills the TV star!

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100% IPTV?

Just as there was a big rush to satellite, perhaps there will be a rush to an internet-based TV delivery system. Perhaps Apple could be the next Sky.

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Anonymous Coward

UI? Who cares?

How many people walk into an electronics shop and ask the assistant for the remote, so they can see what the UI is like?

How many people walk in and look at the picture quality?

The only time I see the interface on my tv is when I switch inputs from Sky to games console to DVD player. Rest of the time, it's not there. The picture quality is the most important feature of any TV. If Apple can produce TV's that can sit alongside the OLED TV's from Samsung and make them look second rate, I'd be impressed.

Of course, what is more likely is that they'll copy everyone else, produce a 720p screen (upgrade to 1080 with the Apple TV2 in a year), it'll have proprietary connectors, and locked down content. And the fanbois will buy them in their millions, just to have the bloody logo on their shiny shiny.

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Devil

apple cant get the content...

As the studios wont let them have it, hardly surprising given the 30% kerching machine that is itunes, why would a company want to make it that easy for a competitior to make money...?

It wont be anything other than a giant wall mounted ipad, with stupid connectors, friction stir welded into permanent never to replaced place.

No thank you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: apple cant get the content...

30% sounds very fair considering they have to provide the marketplace, handle the payments and then allow that content to be streamed forever at no extra cost. The 'UV' system the industry tried to offer seems to have been a flop - if I were to buy physical media (and why would I really these days) if they only offered a UV digital download it would go back on the shelf.

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Anonymous Coward

If anyone can revolutionise 'TV' as they did with the music industry it's Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

I have a Samsung telly and the UI is awful / clunky - but I'm sure it will improve once they see what Apple can do.

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