Speculation that Apple is preparing to enter the TV business is at fever pitch, but according to one analyst, the best way for the Cupertino giant to break into this market is by thinking outside the box and begin manufacturing the "world's first non-TV TV".
According to James McQuivey, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, the "TV business is a tough nut to crack" because the "content is still controlled by monopolists unlikely to give Apple the keys to their content archives," and that Apple introducing a new screen for people to watch content on is unlikely to change anything.
Apple, he claims, has to do "something very different". And in his opinion, that "something very different" is the iHub.
"Apple should sell the world's first non-TV TV," writes McQuivey. "Instead of selling a replacement for the TV you just bought, Apple should convince millions of Apple fans that they need a new screen in their lives. Call it the iHub, a 32-inch screen with touch, gesture, voice, and iPad control that can be hung on the wall wherever the family congregates for planning, talking, or eating - in more and more US homes, that room is the dining room or eat-in kitchen."
McQuivey believes that the key to success is not content, but apps.
"By pushing developers to create apps that serve as the hub of family life - complete with shared calendars, photo and video viewers, and FaceTime for chatting with grandma - this non-TV TV could take off, ultimately positioning Apple to replace your 60-inch set once it's ready to retire."
The problem with McQuivey's giant, wall-mounted, multi-user iPad is that it doesn't really bring anything new to the equation. Putting aside the ergonomic issues related to using a 32-inch wall-mounted touch screen device, what does this device do that can't already be done with an iPad, a Mac, or, for that matter, a whole host of other devices?
Another problem I see with this idea is that while it side-steps the competition in the TV market by being a "non-TV TV," the device will undoubtedly have to compete for wall/floor/shelf space with a TV. People have limited space to put anything as big as what McQuivey is proposing, and there's a good chance that the space that he's thinking that people are going to fill with an iHub is already filled with -- you guessed it -- a TV.
McQuivey mentions how Xbox 360 owners generating more online video views on TVs than viewers of any other device, but then fails to make the connection between the Xbox 360, which is a box that connects to almost every TV in existence, and the Apple TV, another box that connects to almost every TV in existence.
If Microsoft can change people's viewing habits with a device that doesn't have a screen, why does Apple need to make a device with a screen to achieve the same outcome?
As much as I would like to see Apple do something to revolutionize TV, I'm not convinced that any revolution will have anything to do with a screen whatsoever. The problem with TV isn't the screen we watch it on, it's what's displayed on that screen.
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