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It seems like the rumor that wont die. “Apple is making a TV!” is the hushed whisper around tech blogs. Every so often there’s more speculation, another patent here, a rumor from a part supplier there. Well, bunk I say! BUNK!
I can’t say that they’ll never make a TV, but it won’t come out this year. Apple doesn’t need to make a TV. In fact they don’t need to make anything besides iPads and iPhones as far as their shareholders care, but they definitely don’t need to make a TV. And here are a few reasons…
That’s right. I come from the future where the last screen I care about is the biggest one in the room. More people in my age range are not buying TVs. Primarily because, compared to a tablet, laptop or even a desktop computer, a TV does a few things, and you still need an array of boxes attached to it to do anything that you can quickly do from one of those other devices that are scattered around your couch. A lot of this is due to the TV providers being idiots, but that would just be another reason why Apple wouldn’t bother with a TV.
They already make a set top box that handles just about everything their TV would do. Control your TV with your iPad? Easy. Stream content from your computer? Check. Apps? Still not great, but they are continuing to work on it. None of this would change or be made better if they simply shoved those electronics into a TV with an Apple logo on the side. If you really wanted to, I’m sure some hard working Mac freak could mod your Samsung TV to accommodate the little Apple TV box.
Not that touch itself is the end all be all of human computer interaction. But it’s certainly one of the greatest shifts in user interaction in the past four years. Voice commands are stilted, and quite simply, I don’t want to have to address my TV to do the majority of things I want; change channels, adjust volume, etc. For complicated things, voice would be great like “record this show, except when it conflicts with this sports team, then record that.” - But we’re still a little ways off from that reality.
I’m not saying they wouldn’t sell out, heavens no, but think about it this way (“differently”, if you will). In the United States there is at least one Apple device in every other household. They’ve already cracked a tremendous statistic. Now… how many of those households do you think would shell out for a (rumored) 50 inch, high end TV? Remember, Apple doesn’t compete on price, so this would definitely be a “1%” type of product, even by Apple’s standards.
Unlike Cisco, who pioneered a really expensive way to skype, Apple isn’t stupid about making something possible for someone else to develop on. The brilliant (or sneaky) part is that Apple winds up making money regardless. Apple has built the tools for iOS and Mac OS so that it doesn’t need to do all the heavy lifting anymore. It didn’t need to make cars to have manufacturers develop applications that let you unlock your car doors with an iPhone.
What’s interesting in this is that it epitomizes old thinking about technology and a new paradigm (yes, paradigm). Back in the day you had to make everything. This is the GE approach. This is the way conglomerations work - the megalithic company, the OCPs, and Weyland-Yutanis of today. I would like to think that Apple, for all its hype and growth really is a smarter company, one that- while I’m sure it can make a really good widget- doesn’t always need to because the next big thing is more important in five or ten years. This motive is not incompatible with capitalism and profits. I’d like to see Apple do something really different.