I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

Summary:The mythical Apple Television has surfaced! A passage in Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography has resurrected an old dinosaur of a rumor -- that I first broke in 2006.

I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea? Jason O'Grady

There's been an uptick in rumors about the mythical Apple Television recently and a passage in Walter Isaacson's new biography Steve Jobs has resurrected that old dinosaur of a rumor. In the book Jobs tells his biographer that he cracked the mystery of the "integrated television" saying:

I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.

Jason Calacanis told CNet UK in October 2008 that he "knew first-hand that Apple was working on a networked television." But two-plus years before that (on January 6, 2006) I wrote on The PowerPage about how Apple might release a television at Macworld Expo 2006.

I wrote that post based on a tip from a close source that had been reliable in the past. Obviously the Apple Television didn't get released at MW06 (Apple released a iMac Core Duo and MBP15) but my contact was pretty certain about it.

Also, it obviously hasn't come out yet, so saying "I called it" might be a tad premature.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has been beating the Apple Television drum for a few months and wrote in a research note recently that it'll arrive in late 2012 or early 2013:

Apple’s iCloud service for media storage makes it simpler to own multiple Apple devices and share content among them. iCloud stores TV shows and pictures, but we believe Apple may add movies. While a solution for live TV combined with previously aired shows “recorded” in the cloud remains a significant hurdle, perhaps this code is precisely what Jobs believed he has “cracked”. We also believe Apple could use Siri, its voice recognition, personal assistant technology to bolster its TV offering and simplify the chore of inputting information like show titles, or actor names, into a TV (typically with a remote).

Bloomberg added fuel to the fire when it reported that Apple's Jeff Robbin -- of iPod and iTunes Store fame -- is heading up Apple’s internal television effort. It looks like this story may have legs after all, five years later.

I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea? Jason O'Grady

Despite getting an early tip on an Apple plasma, I don't think that it's a good move for the company. I just don't want to have to remove a 50-60" television from my wall when I want to upgrade it in a year or two. It's better to have the smarts in an easily-upgradable box - which is what the current Apple TV is for.

I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea? Jason O'Grady

I suppose that Apple could solve the problem by building its "television" into a card that could be inserted into a slot on the television (kinda like a CableCard, above), but it's a stretch, at best.

Also, Apple already has a television. It's called the iMac.

I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea? Jason O'Grady

Is an Apple television a good idea or bad idea?

Apple television mockup: Tabletis.com, CableCard shot: ArsTechnica

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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