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Saturday, 8 September 2012

What We Know About an Apple Television?

As the holiday season looms on the horizon, it looks like Apple will have some new products to attract holiday shoppers. September could see a new iPhone with 4G LTE and a larger display. Around the same time we could also see a smaller, more affordable iPad Mini that would compete with the popular Nexus 7 tablet and Kindle Fire.
One product we've been expecting that some analysts say will never happen is a real Apple television. Since we've been following the rumors and have our own opinions on the likelihood of this product we thought we'd share what we know and what we think it might look like.


Recent Signs Point to a Real Television
Aside from the Steve Jobs' comment in Walter Isaacson's book where Steve said: "I'd like to create an integrated television set…it would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud...it will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it," there are other signs pointing to the likelihood on an Apple Television.
The numbers look good; at a recent D10 conference Tim Cook referenced Apple TV (the set-top box) saying it's "an area of intense interest for us." In May of this year, Apple reported that it was on track to double the sales of Apple TV which could mean over 5M sold by the end of the year. With the ability to mirror what's on your computer on your TV with built-in mirroring in Mountain Lion, the latest Mac OS, the ability to use the big screen along with your mobile devices gets even easier.

Earlier this summer Tim Cook made a rare appearance at Allen & Co.'s retreat in Sun Valley that was loaded with media moguls including Liberty Media's John Malone and DirecTV chief Michael White. Some site this as evidence that Apple might be lining up content providers in advance of going into the television business similar to how they entered the music business with iTunes and the iPod.


iTV Intellectual Property is Accumulating
Apple's patent portfolio is growing in the television category including one that describes a television-type device that gets content from the cloud.

Apple Supplier is Heavily Invested in Sharp

According to Display Search analyst Paul Ganon, in this Cult of Mac article, the Chinese manufacturer of Apple products, Foxconn invested $1.6B in Sharp's TV unit who is capable of making LCD panels up to 60-inches.

What Would an Apple Television Look Like?
According to Cult of Mac, the new Apple television will have an iSight camera along with some new face recognition and face tracking software for better FaceTime sessions. Siri integration will be included, presumably for voice commands and virtual assistant tasks and of course it will incorporate AirPlay that will allow you to display whatever is on your other Apple devices on your Apple television. Display Search's Gagnon predicts there will be several models ranging in size from 40 – 60 inches shipping some time in 2013. We're sure Apple will be looking to have the Apple logo positioned prominently in living rooms around the world but we hope Apple delivers something more than just an "integrated" television.

What Could an Apple Television Look Like?

Although we suspect Apple will introduce a great LED-backlit, LCD television, we wonder what it would take to make it "insanely" great. Here's our list of a few features we'd like to see in an Apple television:
Minority Report meets the television: a Leap Motion Sensing Device or something similar to create a gesture interface that would allow you to change channels with a flick of your finger.
A wireless speaker system for surround sound without having to run wires or a great audio with a state-of-the-art sound bar.
Person sensing for "personalizing" your television and presence sensing for the environment which would turn off the display when no one is watching the set.
Built-in recording ability with all kinds of smarts to anticipate or suggest shows to watch or record. We suspect that Apple will favor a cloud-based solution to video on demand but if they've figured it out we're all for it.
Some way to watch HBO, et al without a cable box, how about a cable card slot?

It Could Go Either Way
As much as we believe Apple will grow its business by adding more entertainment devices and an Apple Television would fit that description, it's also possible that what Steve Jobs meant when he said he "cracked" it was the current Apple TV. We should know soon enough.

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