A(nother) Case For an Apple-Branded Television

by Nathan Kendrick Feb 13, 2004

Forget the second coming of the Newton, the oft-rumored iPhone, or the fanciful iWalk. AppleTV will be the next consumer product Apple should release.

This product would build on the success of the iPod product design. Moving Apple into an even higher margin consumer product, one that is ubiquitous yet in dire need of Jonathan Ives.

This would be no MS Media Center Edition - it would feature an OS specifically coded for the hardware, much in the same way iPod’s OS is. The iPod never was or will be an OS X Lite. The TV would be the best consumer-grade flat-panel technology, most likely plasma with a 5 year or more lifespan. It will have high-definition out of the box, supporting all the major standards. It will be connectable to your Mac desktop, via ethernet or Airport Extreme - allowing easy browsing and playback of Movies, Photos, and Music.

Will it feature Tivo-like abilities? I don’t think so. That is outside of the general consumer market that Apple really seems to be focusing on. Those that want digital recording capabilities will still be able to use those services and hardware alongside the AppleTV capabilities.

Easy to predict in the future would be a feature to connect to Apple.com and on-demand streaming video content. Perhaps even an extensive deal with Blockbuster to provide feature films on-demand.

Three main reasons why I believe Apple could be really successful in this market.

1. Technology-adoption. Televisions are becoming more and more popular as the feature film industry becomes larger and larger, as DVD quality and resolutions rise, games and gaming consoles become more powerful and immersive, and as flat-panel displays have leapfrogged stagnant CRTs.

2. Ease-of-use. Just as the portable music player market floundered about for years - and the iPod came around to revolutionize it from an ease-of-use standpoint, the AppleTV could revolutionize the TV in the same way. Everyone shudders at the thought of pulling up the TV settings menu; usually when it comes on it was because of a miss-hit button on the remote. Several buttons later you luckily find the right one to dismiss the same annoying menu.

3. Out of the box picture improvement. The common wisdom found on message boards on which TV pictures are best (Sony vs. everyone else) is that you really just need to get to an electronics store and compare models side by side. This has never set well with me. I had the pleasure of watching a selection of Pixar shorts and the trailer for Finding Nemo at Pixar’s in-house digital projection theater. The picture compared to other theaters was jaw-droppingly better. More generally, many are amazed by the Mann’s Chinese Theater because of the incredible picture quality. There is obviously opportunity to elevate display calibration and the general consumer’s understanding of measurable quality.

An Apple TV would be a perfect follow-up to the success of the iPod. Apple has proven with the iPod that it can succeed in the consumer market space. Its time to up the ante.


  • While I enjoyed reading your take on the potential for an Apple TV, I would suggest the projection chip technology of Texas Instruments.  The rear projection sets using their technology take up about the same depth when sitting on a surface due to the tipping factor of flat screens.  Flat screens will have new technologies in one or two years which will dramaticly reduce cost and increase quality.  Jobs may wait for these technolgies to sort themselves out before entering the market.  HD is still limited in distribution and an internet model will take new technologies as well to distribute picture quality to large screens.  Pixlet may have a role to play as I expect Pixar is interested in this market as well.

    REB had this to say on Feb 13, 2004 Posts: 8
  • How much I like Apple I think they will fail in consumer electronics.

    If you really want to offer quality you have to ask a premium price. Here in Europe we enjoy brands like Bang & Olufsen and Loewe, who offer good looking, high quality tv’s—at a premium price.

    Apple is good for its consistency and an all signing, dancing multimedia hub disguised as a TV will not fit that picture.

    Bang & Olufsen is great in delivering a consistent user friendly product, with stunning looks and high quality deliverance, but given its price tag it will never market to the masses in huge numbers like Sony. Much you would like Apple TV to do.

    Martijn had this to say on Feb 13, 2004 Posts: 10
  • What is wonderful about the Mac hardware of the new millennium is that they are consumer electronics, and not premium products with a premium price such as the example of B & O. I know that brand quite well, and its store just 1 block away from the new Apple flagship store about to open in downtown SF. The fact is, 90% of people out there say “Wow, B&O stuff is high quality, but I would never spend that amount of money on something like that” For example, their Beovision 5 plasma screen retails for $22,500 US. Those same people walking down to the Apple store, see the AppleTV and realize 1. It is easier to use, transparent functionality. 2. It is modestly priced when placed at the high-end of consumer electronic products, where performance is less important than design.

    I wouldn’t want Apple to disguise a TV as merely an extension of the Mac, I want them to design it as a better tv. All the technology is there to connect it to your mac at home - Rendezvous, Wireless, Gigabit ethernet, bluetooth for remotes, etc. The AppleTV is there just to view media, not create or edit it.

    Nathan had this to say on Feb 13, 2004 Posts: 219
  • If Apple did go into the TV market, I think they should focus on LCD instead of Plasma.  While Plasma TV’s are very popular, LCD is gaining ground and every one knows that Apple does LCD great.  Just look at Apple’s Cinema displays. 

    I think if Apple made an LCD TV that would incorporate a Mac computer, that it would go over well.  I would only buy the TV, however, if it included TiVo type features.  In addition, it would be great if the TV would give you extra interactivity through the web.  An example would be during a football game where you could bring up statistics at the push of a button.  That would bring the TV to more than what it is today, it would make it a true appliance which could be the real center of your entertainment world. 

    The future is limitless, we will just have to see.

    Tuju Crue had this to say on Feb 13, 2004 Posts: 15
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