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back to article Crap turnover, sucky margins: TV is a 'terrible business' – Steve Jobs

Fanbois hoping to upgrade their Apple streaming set-top box to a fully fledged Apple TV set will have been disheartened by revelations in a new book claiming Steve Jobs did not support building an iTelly. According to former WSJ journo Yukari Iwatani Kane's book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, the fruity führer …

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Boffin

Jobs was a genius

At figuring out how to get Kool-Aid drinkers to overpay for hardware, software & services. It should not be a surprise that he'd not look kindly on TV. As he said, the hardware does not turn over, and the services had been crowded for years by the likes of Tivo, Roku, etc.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

The hardware turns over ok.... if once every four to five years is ok.

That's an amount that's not strictly long enough for a TV to become actually obsolete, but far longer than the tin-pedlars would have us wait.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

The hardware turns over ok.... if once every four to five years is ok.

*****

My last TV lasted 20 years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jobs was a genius

"The hardware turns over ok.... if once every four to five years is ok."

4 to 5 years is the turn over rate for well heeled people who see themselves as "techie" or just love TV.

My parents bought a 37" LG Flatscreen 3 years ago. That replaced their 15year old CRT TV that served perfectly well, and really only upgraded that because my brother wanted it.

My TV is around 10 years old now and still going strong, only issue is a lack of HDMI ports, but I am not shelling out more than an extra 50p to get them. (it's got all the features you would need minus the HDMI)

Most of my friends have flatscreens of varying sizes, most are over 5 years old and they have no need or want to replace them.

Some people are still using their old CRT TVs as a main box, there's just very little need to replace them if they work okay and a set top box will do the digital job no problem. TVs also have little to no resale value, so justifying the cost of a brand new box is hard. Especially when the price point is north of £400, which for Apple to be happy it will be.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

My last TV lasted 20 years.

BTDT, hence the genius of LCD/LED where the backlight degrades and the telly doesn't last anything like that long. Now that pretty much everyone has got rid of there CRTs and you can no longer pick up high quality ones on Freecycle at the drop of a hat, I am hoping that a "must"-have feature emerges to flood the market with second-hand flat panels with a few years left in them for cheap

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Silver badge

Re: Jobs was a genius

When the TV's backlight goes, take the back off, move it in front of the window, and watch only daytime TV.

You're welcome

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jobs was a genius

It is the radio based TV transmission technology that is slow to change. Cable has quite a lot of capacity as does satellite but UHF is always limited.

Jobs knew from his experience of dealing with content providers for iTunes how bad they can be.

One of the reasons he never went from DVD to Blu-ray on Macs is the horrible restrictions you needed to implement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jobs was a genius

You can fix the backlight too. If it's cold cathode then it will die after a while. LEDs are easier.

My LG TV started acting up last year after 4 years of ownership (green screen). I lifted the back off, re-seated the cables and stuck some more tape on the ribbon cables to support them. It's been fine ever since.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

Interesting. I don't watch much TV, so I haven't observed this on my 5 year old Sony flatscreen. I was going to chuck out the 15" trinny in the loft tomorrow, but (thanks to your entirely timely warning) I think I might keep it a little bit longer now!

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Re: Jobs was a genius

My last TV was a CRT and I got it second hand when a friend was upgrading. My previous TV before that was some ancient thing that was probably bought in the 70s. My current TV is about 4 years old now and if I don't get at least another 4 years out of it I will be disappointed.

I bought a new monitor last year, it replaced a still functional non-widescreen LCD monitor that I'd had for about 8 - 10 years. It had died at one point but I just opened it up, replaced all the electrolytic capacitors and gave it a whole new lease of life. :)

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Re: Jobs was a genius

I've purchased exactly two TVs in my lifetime, one was in the '90s to replace my original TV which I inherited from an aunt and the last in 2011 after going without a few years because I couldn't be arsed with getting a digital tuner and only caved because it keeps the relatives entertained when it's my turn to host a holiday.

I still have the remote from the original set. I kept it seeing as it's ultrasonic and worked quite well for shooing the neighbors dog.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

I've got a 52" LG DLP that is a truly wonderful unit, even if it is 8 years old. The picture is sharp, the colours are vibrant and sound is excellent. I would buy another DLP in a heartbeat (if I could). The lamp in this one has been replaced twice (4 years use per bulb) , and I have one more spare.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

4 or 5 years? I expect a TV to last at least a decade, if not 2!

I only replaced my last one (a 2000 Sony WEGA), because it was too big for the alcove in the new house. It went to a young couple just starting out, who couldn't afford a large TV of their own.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jobs was a genius

It would make watching, shall we say, more adult oriented-programmes a bit more of a social thing. I enjoy watching Bulgarian airbags as much as the next bloke, but I would hardly like to advertise that fact at ten o'clock in the morning.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

"The hardware turns over ok.... if once every four to five years is ok."

A turnover rate of greater than a year is unacceptable to the cult of Apple.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

"Some people are still using their old CRT TVs as a main box, there's just very little need to replace them if they work okay"

Uhhhh, what? We're pretending HD doesn't exist? 4k is right around the corner. Someone with a CRT has missed out on the entirety of 720p and 1080p.

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Re: Jobs was a genius

I only upgraded a couple of years ago and don't really see any benefit from the 32" screen in the corner of the room...

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TV's old hat

Basing a strategy around a big box in the corner of the room went out with 1950s-style nuclear families. TV is just another screen for beaming our devices at

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Windows

Pay for a telly? Soooo 1990s.

My last 2 TVs have been free cast offs, a 36" CRT the size of a fridge and a 42" Toshiba LCD which was deemed "too small" by its owner and replaced with a 50" plasma. Previous to that a tiny Sony Trinitron lasted 20 years thanks to several cheap repair jobs.

Apple's MO doesn't fit a market filled with sub £300 flatscreen units that last at least 5 years on average and can come with Internet channels, on demand and recording hard drives pre built in.

Bang & Olufsen buyers would be Apple's target market and it is tiny.

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A Bit Much.

"fruity führer "

I loathe Steve Jobs and get a great deal of amusement and satisfaction out of the way he - as I look at it - killed himself, but "fruity führer" is a bit much.

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Silver badge

Re: A Bit Much.

It should be fruity Führer (German nouns are always capitalized) and means leader or guide.

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Turtle: This'll give you a chuckle ..

Turtle: "I loathe Steve Jobs and get a great deal of amusement and satisfaction out of the way he - as I look at it - killed himself, but "fruity führer" is a bit much."

--

Walter Isaacson Great Innovators:

"The transplant was a success, but not reassuring. When they doctors took out his liver, they found spots on the peritoneum, the thin membrane that surrounds the internal organs. In addition, there were tumors throughout the liver, which meant it was likely that the cancer had migrated elsewhere as well. It had apparently mutated and grown quickly. They took samples and did more genetic mapping."

"A few days later needed to perform another procedure. Jobs insisted against all advice they not pump out his stomach, and when they sedated him, he aspirated some of the contents into his lungs and developed pneumonia. At that point they thought he might die."

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Re: Turtle: This'll give you a chuckle ..

His kind of stupidity really does make me grin. : )

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@big_D

"It should be fruity Führer (German nouns are always capitalized) and means leader or guide."

I got a good laugh out of this, thanks!

By the way, I am perfectly aware of the dictionary meaning of the word "Führer". You however seem to be unaware of this particular word's historical meaning.

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Hmm, this would be the same WSJ journo who said she had no inside access?

From what I hear her book is pasted together from shockingly flimsy theories and suppositions, with precious little relationship to reality. IF Apple ever get around to making a TV it will be because they have worked out a proposition that they think buyer will be prepared to pay a premium for, just like the iPhone. Even with the current batch of flat screen sets there is a huge range of prices within which they could slot (people don't just buy the cheapest model, no matter what the haters would have you believe). Also the word of Jobs was never cast in stone. He'd say something (like they weren't interested in flash based iPods), and at some later point when they had got thing to the point they were happy with, suddenly they would about face.

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Re: Hmm, this would be the same WSJ journo who said she had no inside access?

"Also the word of Jobs was never cast in stone. He'd say something (like they weren't interested in flash based iPods), and at some later point when they had got thing to the point they were happy with, suddenly they would about face."

You must be an Apple fanboi. There is a word you could condense all that text down to. Liar. Steve Jobs was a liar.

If the CEO of an oil company or bank acted the way he did and lied as blatantly as he did, people would have have had a field day with it.

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Stop

Re: Hmm, this would be the same WSJ journo who said she had no inside access?

If you read his words he was generally quite careful not to rule out something completely. He'd say why Apple wouldn't/shouldn't get involved in a market/technology as it currently stood. When the technology/pricing improved the reasons for NOT doing it were removed. If you find a CEO of a company who won't change his mind based on changing circumstances then I recommend that you have nothing whatsoever to do with that company.

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Margins

The margins on TV hardware are low and going lower. 4K might sell where 3D so obviously wouldn't, assuming content providers come up with the goods. Interesting to see Amazon trying to get in early there.

The hardware Apple TV is still a hobby for for Apple. It's cheap enough to sell and fits in nicely with the emerging eco-system of streaming to it from other devices (disintermediating by removing the remote control) but it's still niche. Apple desperately wants to be able to brand something to make a premium product out of it. This is more difficult with mass media than it is with high volume but still marginal hardware products.

It might be tempting to get into content production - say joint venture with Disney or buy HBO - but the history of such conglomerates has not been good (Sony, et al.). But some kind of OTT Apple premium service is conceivable.

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Angel

Depends what you mean by "TV"

The way I see it, one of Jobs's landmark products was a TV.

He called it "the iPad". It's a device that displays video (among other things) and accompanying sound, received over wireless connections.

Oh, of course it can also play games, take notes, access the web etc. Like many other modern TVs.

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Re: Depends what you mean by "TV"

Apple products have always been for consumption of media. PCs are for the creation of media.

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Calling Out Jerks

Mr. Hamill,

The us of the word "fanbois" says much more about you than it does about them.

Grow up.

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So What?

"Fanbois hoping to upgrade their Apple streaming set-top box to a fully fledged Apple TV set will have been disheartened by revelations in a new book claiming Steve Jobs did not support building an iTelly."

Apple has done tons of things Jobs didn't approve of since he died. Like making the iPhone bigger, like releasing a plastic iPhone, like releasing two versions at once and like releasing an iPad Mini.

Tim Cook has made it clear that Jobs and his insane rules are dead, and the company will do whatever they want. Hell, Cook even said Apple isn't trying to make profit anymore, which was the cornerstone of Jobs' policy.

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all we actually need are the panels.

mounted on the wall.

With enough HDMI sockets to plug in whatever AV product we care to use.

I have a freesat Panasonic - very nice picture but othewise pretty 'dumb'.

Plugged into it, however are:

upscaling multi region dvd/cd player

PS3 - for games (rarely), youtube, bbc, 4od, itv, home movie playback, Blu-Ray/dvd/cd, netflix/lovefilm. PS3 also streams wireless media from the hard disc and either PC.

HTC Flyer - for youtube, google Play Music & spotify/internet radio.

Asus tablet transformer (as above)

Sony Xperia handsets (as above).

plus a dangling vga connector should the laptops need to go on)

The 'TV' only displays the content - and hdmi is the common link.

(oh and a Humax freesat PVR that also does BBC red-button TV catch up)

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Even rich people don't buy new TV"s every two years (or every year) because they simply don't require replacement if they still work. It's not like buying a new phone or new tablet that has to be current enough to run a new OS update and utilize features that previous models cannot. TV's are hooked up to cable set top boxes or satellite set top boxes. Even the set top boxes don't require replacement every two years, unless they stop working. Different world. Different technology. Not nearly as much turn over.

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