Analyst: Apple execs say no TV set any time soon

Analyst: Apple execs say no TV set any time soon

Summary: Analysts continue to argue over whether Apple is planning to launch a TV.

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
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There's been no end of speculation that Apple has plans to launch either a television set or a new range of TV services. However, one analyst now claims that Apple executives have made it clear that there won't be a TV -- or a TV service -- any time soon.

Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves has issued an update based on a meeting on Wednesday with Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer and senior vice-president for internet services and software Eddy Cue. For anyone holding their breath for a TV, it's rather disappointing news.

"Relative to the television market," the note says, "Eddy Cue, Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services, reiterated the company's mantra that it will enter markets where it feels it can create great customer experiences and address key problems. The key problems in the television market are the poor quality of the user interface and the forced bundling of pay TV content, in our view".

Hargreaves goes on to say that while he believes that "Apple could almost certainly create a better user interface" than present on existing TVs, he says that "Cue's commentary suggested that this would be an incomplete solution from Apple's perspective unless it could deliver content in a way that is different from the current multichannel pay TV model".

So, just as with the iPod, iPhone and iPad, the actually TV hardware would only be part of the solution. Apple isn't just interested in selling the hardware, but in making the hardware a conduit into a content ecosystem.

He goes on to say that: "The differences in regional broadcast content and the lack of scale internationally also create significant hurdles that do not seem possible to cross at this point".

Making sense of broadcast content, it seems, is even beyond Apple and all its billions.

But some analysts continue to hold the torch for an Apple TV. Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Douglas J. Clinton continue to confidently believe that we will be able to buy an Apple TV next year.

"Our confidence that the Apple Television is real," writes Munster and Clinton in their latest company note on Apple, "is primarily based on our checks with component suppliers, as well as Steve Jobs' biography, and Tim Cook's comments on the June conference. We expect Apple could launch the TV in mid- to late-2013 and continue to believe the company will announce the TV [around] six months ahead of launch to freeze the market".

The note goes on to predict that the TV will be in the 42-inch to 55-inch size range and will retail for between $1,500 and $2,000.

A quick scan of Best Buy's website suggests that smart TVs in this screen size tend to retail for between $800 and $1,700, which means that -- if Munster's information is correct -- consumers would be paying quite a premium for the privilege of owning a TV with the Apple logo on it.

It should be noted that Munster has been talking about an Apple TV for over four years, and he confidently predicted that a standalone Apple TV would be available in 2011. He also predicted that Apple would be selling 6.6 million Apple TV set-top boxes in 2009 when in truth by 2011 Apple was barely selling 3 million units.

Image source: Apple.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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28 comments
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  • Apple is going too fast

    With Retina, the bandwidth needed to host and distribute imagery that makes proper use of it is astronomical and as one, of many, site owners, I will not be catering to it anytime soon. 72~110PPI is quite sufficient, even if Retina is otherwise a masterpiece. The rest of the technological paradigm "isn't ready", never mind costs.

    Streaming video won't cut it for a higher-res display - even right now, compressed video looks soft, fuzzy, and with bleeding, blooming, and/or crushed colors. Give me even standard def DVD, and Blu-Ray cremates the lot... never mind how standard def looks upscaled, which is typically done best at the TV level, since the media players don't do a great job at upscaling - or that's been my experience in the past, but I've not bought a TV since last year and I hope product quality doesn't compel me to buy another for another decade or two...

    Since i'm assuming most of the premium is going to a higher density screen with wider color and grayscale gamut, but most LED-edgelit sets for $1000+ can't match the $500 CCFL-backlit set I bought last year... sad... and, yes, I know how to calibrate.
    HypnoToad72
    • Exactly! Streaming is crap

      That's the biggest problem, but there are others. Another big problem, in my opinion, is the fact that people want to choose their television displays based on their own personal preferences. They don't want to be limited a choice of two sizes, both with highly reflective displays that are unusable in most living room environments. No matter how good the interface is, this is a big negative to overcome. I don't want Apple picking my display for me.

      Apple would do much better by designing a set top box that replaces a 4 tuner HD TiVo, but has a less clumsy, more responsive user interface. It should be iOS based and be compatible with existing iOS applications, since OS X is a bit cumbersome. This would also allow them to use their mobile processors to save power. It should be responsive and instant on, like an iPad or iPhone. It should connect to your home network for Internet content. It should function as an iTunes server allowing streaming to any of your Apple devices. It should have a massive hard drive, to allow storage of vast amounts of HD content, with external ports to add more drives. It should also have a Blu-ray drive for watching your existing movie collection. It should be 4K compatible, too. If they can swing it somehow, the device should even allow you to store your existing media onto it. Perhaps this would be a variation of iTunes Match which works for your movie collection.

      A device that could do all of that would be truly revolutionary. It would unclutter our entertainment centers by reducing the number of boxes. Think of this device as a cross between a Mac Mini, an Apple TV, a TiVo Premiere 4XL, and a Kaleidoscope system but using iOS for the interface. I'd pay $1k plus for a device that included everything I've mentioned. Then, I could select my own display, based on my own preferences. When it comes to my home theater system, I really don't want Apple choosing my display for me.
      BillDem
  • What UI are they talking about?

    "The key problems in the television market are the poor quality of the user interface"

    Do they mean that the volume control is unintuitive?
    Do they mean that the power is hard to turn on or off?
    Or is it that TVs are very confusing because you have to figure out how to switch between different inputs?

    Okay, the first 2 were sarcastic, the 3rd is a real issue. Yes, people have a huge amount of difficulty figuring out the inputs on a TV.

    Apple's solution is obvious: get rid of all inputs. Release a TV that can only do 1 thing: connect to iTunes running on a Mac somewhere inside your house. You can only watch content that is available through iTunes. By removing the option to hook anything up to this TV, you remove the only part of a TV that is hard to understand. You also get rid of the forced bundling of pay content because Apple can always say that you aren't forced to pay for any video, you can quite easily use it to watch only video that you've taken with your iPhone.

    It will, of course, support AirPlay but not DLNA, just to avoid the confusion consumers may feel should they want to play any content not originating from an Apple product. It is very clear and not confusing to say: nothing but Apple products will work.

    But Todd, Apple already has something that can do almost all of this: Apple TV. Yes, but the problem is that the current Apple TV doesn't prevent the purchaser from using non Apple products and buying non Apple content. Apple TV is currently just one thing that can be plugged into a TV. It then has to compete with all the other inputs on the TV. Every Apple TV set (basically just an Apple TV + panel) sold has no inputs and is just one more lock-in for Apple's ecosystem.
    toddbottom3
    • You are such a penis...

      really wish you would just go away. My harmony remote works just fine for me. If Apple decided to get in that market, fine. If not, fine. Get it? It's all just fine. You, however, are a total wacko....time for you to be dismissed.
      NOmoreMicrosoftATall
      • The classy Apple fanboi strikes again

        You, dave95, Robert Hahn, you are all the same: classy right to the end.
        toddbottom3
        • And classic todd's buttocks gives a witty response

          To a TV system he would never use anyway.

          No wonder you get belittled. And you really don't have a clue as to why.
          Cylon Centurion
          • Why Cylon Centurion, your new demeanor of lates

            sounds so shades of...ScorpioBlue.

            Though I thought you changed your name to "A Frackin' Cylon".
            William Farrel
          • No, that was my sock puppet

            Who's a lot smarter than your sock puppet.

            I have seen the light and now no longer wish to be a Micro$oft slave.

            You can have my Ballmer shoe-shining job now, Wilie.

            lol..
            Cylon Centurion
          • Not sure who this guy is,

            But he sure isn't me. :(
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • C'mon, dude

            Stop pretending to be me. Just admit you're an idiot. k?
            Cylon Centurion
      • But he's dead on, isn't he?

        What are the issues with the current user interface in a TV? The remote control? Not too hard to figure out, is it? "The poor quality of the user interface"? The Cable guide? Quite easy to use, IMHO.
        William Farrel
  • Pulling out the crystal ball again.

    "is primarily based on our checks with component suppliers, as well as Steve Jobs' biography, and Tim Cook's comments on the June conference."

    "is primarily based on our checks with component suppliers, as well as Steve Jobs' biography, and Tim Cook's comments on the June conference."

    More proof that these guys like Munster and Jaffray have no more insight into this than the rest of us in the tech community? Yet they get paid millions to come up with this stuff?
    dave95.
  • Nuts

    Why would they want to run a big honkin' 50-inch display through their books when the margin on the thing would suck? They'd have 9-figure sums tied up in inventory and receivables, earning next-to-nothing.

    All the magic could be put in a set-top box with a BOM less than $100. And it would play with any TV set out there. There is absolutely no reason to integrate the display with the rest of the electronics. All you do is limit your market to the people who will buy your display, and expose yourself to the risk of some new display technology that's better than yours.
    Robert Hahn
    • Bose tried to follow that same failed business model you described

      with their integrated Bose stereo speakers and HDTV and their sales figures for that product hasn't exactly set any records.

      I agree with you, AKH and Todd on this one.

      However, the only way an Apple Branded HDTV would make sense is if it contains proprietory display technology that offers a significant advantage over current display tech. Unfortunately, I haven't read anything that hints at that possibility.
      kenosha77a
      • Unlikely

        I looked into that once -- not exhaustively, but enough -- and came away with the impression that 1080p is a "retina display" for big screens, meaning that more resolution would be wasted on the human eye. So where do they go, brighter colors? Sony already did that one, and they're losing their shirts.
        Robert Hahn
        • 8k

          I think higher resolution than 1080p can make sense for enertainment where the user sit quite close to large screens and want to have a choice of what part he will look at. Imagine looking at a more zoomed out picture of some sport and still see retina on the part you are looking at.
          Oden79
          • I'm trying to picture this

            "Hey guys, come over and watch the superbowl on my iTV. Bob, you get the left side of the TV, I get the middle, Steve you can have the right side. Why is the couch 2 feet away from my 50" TV? Because then you can appreciate Retina (tm) on the part of the TV I've assigned you. Bob, no looking at my part of the TV. BOB, NO LOOKING."

            Yeah. Apple has a winner here.
            toddbottom3
  • Yes...this is a non-story.

    One that Apple haters will run to and write 'Apple Sucks' for this or that other reason. Move one people. Nothing to see here.
    NOmoreMicrosoftATall
  • What problem would it be solving?

    Once we figure out that, then we can figure out why Apple would make an Apple TV set.
    Michael Alan Goff
  • Disappointed but Reassured

    I am disappointed that I won't be seeing an iTV any time soon, but I am reassured by Apple's decision. Apple will only enter a new market when they are confident they can redefine it.

    I can still remember how everyone, and I mean everyone, laughed their asses off when Apple said it was making a telephone.

    If Apple ever comes out with a TV I am confident they will once again get the last laugh.
    Steve Romero