It's been a while since I've written about Apple's long-rumored but as yet highly elusive TV. However, according to sources within the TV industry, the project, which has never been announced officially by Apple, is on hold.
The news comes to us via NPR DisplaySearch analyst Paul Gagnon. According to Gagnon, the TV may have been put on hold pending the "rollout of wearable devices," which replaces one mythical Apple product with another.
Gagnon also highlights another roadblock – content.
"For Apple, selling hardware is partly a way to sell more software and content," write Gagnon. "If the iPod and iTunes system had never been successfully leveraged as a way to drive customers to buy songs and albums, it likely would never have been the massive success for Apple that it has become. Similarly, iPhones and iPads drive both content and app purchases, which deliver very high margins for Apple. Granted, these hardware devices also generate healthy profits for Apple, but only because they are sold in the tens of millions of units, and are replaced and upgraded relatively frequently."
While I've always been skeptical about an Apple branded TV – the TV industry is cut-throat, the market saturated, and the margins atrocious – Gagnon does offer three goals for a successful TV, whether it be Apple-branded or not.
- Sell enough units to generate sufficient content purchasing points.
- Offer a unique point of differentiation to capture market share from leading TV manufacturers.
- Create follow-on replacement purchases.
The last one is a real sticking point, given that the average TV replacement cycle is around seven years. Compare this to the replacement cycle for a smartphone, which is about three years. On top of that, Apple might only be able to sell one TV per household, and not one per person, as is the case for the iPhone and iPad.
As I've said before, I see little logic in Apple manufacturing an expensive TV in order to try to attain dominance in the living room when it sells a cheap device – the Apple TV set-top box – that can connect to any TV with an HDMI port.