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

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.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
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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

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

    Im not so sure apple is the right company for this, but i definitely agree this is a better method for television/media.<br><br>Trying not to make broad statements so just my personal use, i watch ALLOT of media/tv shows but i have not sat down in front of a tv and switched on a channel for years, because there are so many better alternatives to getting the content when you need it. I would assume this is the case for many, but it has not flowed down to mainstream audience yet.

    I also think TV stations will be against this move (inevitable) being made obsolete? ads?
    Frenz9
  • No. Apple should only make a connection box.

    I prefer a TV that is dumb, just a tuner, great screen, and all the ports. Than have box that is low power, and powered from the TV itself that will give added functionality. These can be upgraded at a much lower cost than buying a whole new TV.
    root12
    • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

      @root12
      Don't know if you ever saw the segment where Steve Jobs discussed the possibility of making a TV, but he basically made the point where Apple would only make it if they could make the entire widget. He went on to explain that the reason Apple would even attempt it would be to create a homogeneous user interface across the the different devices. So instead of having a TV, a cable box, a a tivo, a DVD, a bluray and an xbox (with all 6 remotes sitting on your coffee table,) you would only have one remote with one interface that would supersede the local interface on the devices.
      So not sure
      Tigertank
    • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

      @root12 I would prefer they stick with a connected box as well. I don't want to buy an Apple TV for every room I want to have the features it provides in. I would much rather buy on product like the current Apple TV and move it from room to room as I want to or at the $99 price buy more than one.
      non-biased
  • Nice but restrictive

    Lets face it, Apple does not play well with others.<br>I want flexibility and choice.<br>Apple can be part of my infrastructure/ecosystem but it can never be the entire thing.<br>I am brand paradigmed but not brand loyal.
    rhonin
  • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

    Let's face it, Steve Jobs had the Midas touch - most of the time. Apple changed the way we use computers, music, telephones and tablets. They don't necessarily invent the concept, they just make it much better than the competition. So there is a good chance that they will turn the TV set market on its head, as with other things in the past. We will know it only when we see the full product, because it's the details that make the difference in a project like this.<br>I am not sure that I would want to buy a large screen TV and be locked with Apple, considering the planned obsolescence pattern of IT products in general and Apple in particular. It will have to be a high quality TV set, capable of doing everything a normal TV set can do, with a good dose of Apple wizardry on top of that, to justify the premium price. And, although it's still a few years away - Super Hi-Def is something which will be worth investing in, once it becomes available. I've seen it in action, on a large screen. and it's very impressive, a huge step up from Hi-Def. If you come to London for the 2012 Olympics, you will be able to see it in action. Conclusion: I won't blow all my savings on Apple TV, I will leave some for Super Hi-Def, in 2-3 years' time, but I am curious what Apple will come up with, as it's likely to push the whole industry into a race to improve our viewing experience.
    PS: Have you thought about the power of the Thunderbolt port? Instead of the huge tangle of wires behind most TV sets, you could have a single slim cable connecting all devices - a dream. And they still have in store the fibre version of Thunderbolt.
    mainvision
  • Better yet, Apple DVR

    I'd love to have apple build a DVR so I could tell the cable company where to put it's monthly allotment of blood. It should have multiple tuners, could drive multiple TVs, integrate all the media from my Computer, Cable/satellite company, the cloud etc. and be able to do a search of all of it
    bws605
    • re Apple DVR

      @bws605 Check out the line of Elgato products (esp HD Home Run and EyeTV HD). I've never paid for a cable DVR and have no intention of ever doing so.

      In general though, I think that Apple making an actual TV would be a mistake. They should stick to the boxes.
      dmclean@...
    • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

      @bws605 I agree! If Apple can make a DVR with a better interface, massive storage, and quad HD tuners, count me in! I'm using two cable company HD-DVRs right now in order to get the flexibility I need and the interface is horrible.

      Personally, I am very skeptical of Apple making a TV. If they come out with some highly reflective panel made by some nobody company in Taiwan, there is no way I'd ever buy it. The panel is the most important part and it will be so easy for them to alienate most home theater enthusiasts by getting that part wrong. Like you, I think they would do better introducing a killer HD-DVR box.

      Oh - and Apple, listen up - 720p is NOT home theater HD. That's just pathetic and it's the reason why I don't (and won't) own an Apple TV. You need to hire some home theater enthusiasts to oversee the specs on this new project. You obviously don't have any there, or Apple TV wouldn't be calling itself HD.
      BillDem
  • Planned Obsolescence

    It always interests me to hear people talk about Apple products and planned obsolescence because I really don't think they understand the concept (or maybe i don't). In my mind, I always assumed obsolete meant, no longer works, or can't get it repaired any more. There are lots of products that I am sure have this plan in place. Apple products aren't that way at all. I work at a K-12 school that still use Apple computers that are 7 years old. They still work and they still run relevant software. Just because a company releases a new computer or device that you like better, doesn't mean that the current gadget you have is obsolete. If anything, Apple products keep working long after many other products simply can't.

    That being said, I would love to have another option for TV and movie watching. I think that if Apple does it right, like they have at least in the last few years, then it will likely affect every other product and service out there in positive ways for the consumer and that is just good for all of us.
    hynotes1
    • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

      @hynotes1
      I agree that Apple handles obsolescence better than most other computer manufacturers. I have only just retired my venerable iBook, only because I bought a MacBook Pro, but the iBook is still in good working order - and it's probably 6 or 7 years old by now.
      mainvision
    • My G5 1.8 tower is now in its eighth year

      @hynotes1
      :-) No, I'm not planning to replace it. It's worth $300-350 at most and I couldn't find that much these days.
      Laraine Anne Barker
    • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

      @hynotes1 The Planned Obsolescence is Real!
      For example: LION users must throw out all POWER PC
      application to replace them with INTEL or UNIVERSAL coding. This means software becomes obsolete. Also if your speed is below 850MHZ processor, you are still running OS 10.4 or TIGER as those slower machine became obsolete with LEOPARD. Yes you can still use the machines, even run 'relevant' software. But you are not state-of-the-art and cannot do certain task as you're obsolete.
      dcsos
      • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

        @dcsos

        Get real. You can not be an owner of "state of the art" computer equipment if your hardware is old! The software OS will never make an old hardware based machine "state of the art".

        However, old computers can still run "relevant" software, as you put it. What is wrong about that? So it's not "state-of-the-art. Big Deal.

        Any computer system running "relevant software" is NEVER obsolete.
        kenosha77a
      • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

        @dcsos What a ridiculous response. Sure, with every new software updates a new group of older systems or software are no longer compatible but (A) you don't have to upgrade and (B) who else doesn't run into the same thing. I would like to say nice try but it wasn't even good enough to say that.
        non-biased
  • Cool story bro...

    Yeah lots of people called it, Jason. Lots of people call lots of things. Sooner or later, some happen.<br>I don't think they'll produce an Apple TV. Or at least, I don't think Steve would have ever gone through with it. Who knows what will happen.
    Naryan
  • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

    If Apple make it work as well as all their other products, it should e a great product.
    marcandsebe
  • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

    I am also mot worried about being locked to the Apple ecosystem. It works well for me.
    marcandsebe
  • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

    I honestly think It'll look like every other sexy Apple product. No, you can't imagine it - sorry to say.

    If it's unique, fun, and innovative; I'll go with it.

    Be interesting to see Google counter this, "Android TV"
    markh789
  • RE: I called the Apple Television five years ago, but is it a good idea?

    Yeah, like anyone would want to pay a fortune for an Apple TV, when they can get one just as good from Samsung or LG for half the price.
    jhammackHTH