Speculation about an Apple television set has been circulating for several years, but the product has yet to surface from the company itself. It is widely believed that Apple will launch a product in an attempt to take over the TV market as it has with the MP3 player, smartphone and tablet markets.
When will Apple unveil its television?
Analysts have been predicting the announcement of an Apple television set for years, often claiming that the launch is imminent only for months to pass with no sign of the television from Apple.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has been claiming that the television set is on its way since further back than 2011. In August last year, Munster predicted that an Apple television would arrive at the end of 2012 or in early 2013, while Stewart Alsop, who sits on the board of two companies that make media streaming products for the home, says that the television project is underway, and will be finished in time for the 2012 holiday season.
Many analysts were convinced that Apple would unveil an Apple television, or at least the smart TV’s operating system, at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but were left disappointed when the event came and went with not sign of such product.
How do we know that there will even be an Apple television?
We don’t know for sure. But, there’s a lot of evidence that points towards an Apple television, so we can be fairly certain that Apple will launch something of the sort in the near future.
During the summer of 2011, a former Apple executive, who spoke only on the condition that he remain anonymous, confirmed that “the company’s biggest upcoming product launch” would be its entry into the flat-screen television market, and would “blow Netflix and all those other guys away.”
In September 2011, Jean-Louis Gassée, a former president of Apple’s products division, said that an Apple television has ‘got to happen’.
Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, was extremely interested in creating a television. Walter Isaacson’s best selling authorised biography of Jobs reveals that the company had made a big breakthrough with the TV.
“He very much wanted to do for television what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,” wrote Isaacson.
“’I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he [Jobs] told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest use interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’”
In 2011, Bloomberg reported that three insiders with “knowledge of the project” confirmed that Jeff Robbin, the software engineer who built iTunes, is guiding development of the Apple television.
Apple’s primary manufacturing partner Foxonn’s interest in shares of display maker Sharp in June also fuelled rumours about the Apple television set.
Apple CEO Tim Cook made a surprise appearance at the Allen & Co. annual retreat, leading to speculation that Apple could be aiming to strike entertainment deals for the television during the conference.
Cook also revealed that Apple has “some incredible things coming out,” and spent some time talking about the television business at D10 this year. Cook referred to the existing Apple TV set top box, described for years as a ‘hobby product’ for Apple, and hinting that there may be more potential. He also noted that, for many people, television is “an area in their life that they’re not pleased with” and suggested that Apple will “keep pulling this string and see where it takes us.”
And if they do keep pulling the strings, Apple will aim to make a “significant contribution far beyond what others have done in this area,” said Cook.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple has been speaking with US cable operators about the possibility of allowing customers to use an Apple device with set-top-box functionality to watch live television and access other content. This device could ultimately be integrated into a television set, revealed two of WSJ’s sources, who said: “Apple has worked on prototypes of televisions in the past.”
However in May, an analyst bucked the trend, pouring cold water on rumours of an Apple television by claiming that Apple wouldn’t waste the retail space, and that there’s little chance of the company doing a deal with US broadcast and cable providers.
What will the Apple television do?
Well, aside from the obvious (you’ll be able to watch TV on it), it is expected that the Apple television will be high-definition, and could have FaceTime and AirPlay capabilities, seamless Siri integration, and built-in motion controlled games console.
It is believed that the simple interface Jobs refers to in Isaacson’s biography will be based around voice controls, similar to Siri, the iPhone 4S’s voice-activated personal assistant.
So, for example, users might be able to say: ‘Play the last episode of Supernatural,’ or ‘play me McFly’s new music video’ and the voice assistant will do just that. It will probably have built in Apple TV services such as iTunes, and could interact with the iPad, iPhone, or some other custom Apple touchscreen remote.
Alternatively, users may need to use hand gestures to control the television, in a similar fashion to the way we use Microsoft’s Kinect.
It has been reported that the HDTV will have a Retina display, following in the footsteps of the third-generation iPad and the new MacBook Pro.
It is also likely that Apple’s television will have 3D capabilities.
Apple has recently been granted television patent, described by some as “extraordinary,” “wild” and “crazy”. The patent covers a television that uses 5D technology, interactive gaming, video conferencing, advanced tactile feedback technology, virtual reality gloves, and a unique touch signature that could be used to start a car, for example.
What will the Apple television look like?
Several experts have tried to predict the size of the Apple television, but may of the views have been conflicting. In 2011, Alsop said that a 15- to 19in range is in the works. But, also in 2011, a separate report claimed that the smart TV would come in three different sizes, including 32in and 55in models.
What will Apple call its television?
There has been no solid conclusion about what Apple will call its television. There is already an Apple TV, the set-top box that bridges the gap between the internet and a standard television set
Many have dubbed the television ‘iTV’, but it appears that the British television company, also named ITV, has told Apple that it cannot use that name. Another suggestion is ‘iPanel’.
How much will the Apple television cost?
At the moment, we can only guess about the price of the Apple television, but Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster found that if the price tag is more than $1,500, as many experts have estimated, then more than 75 per cent of US consumers may not be willing to part with their cash.