Analyst: Apple to release ‘AppleVision’ set-top box ‘TiVo killer’

“Most Apple watchers are spending their time gaping at the current runaway success of the company and speculating about what the company’s Next Big Thing might be. The current odds seem to be on the much-rumored iPhone finally debuting–albeit first in Japan (see related story). But some coy remarks dropped by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the annual shareholders’ meeting in April, coupled with a column in early May by the Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg–who boldly asserted that an Apple media hub will be finally forthcoming–caused the buzz about an Apple-dominated living room to ramp up to a full throttle,” Alice LaPlante reports for InformationWeek. “‘It’s fairly easy to see where Apple is going,’ says Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co. ‘The home is the next major battleground between a diverse set of players–whether they are PC companies or consumer electronics firms–and Apple intends to be a aggressive participant.'”

“Ease of use is the primary issue: consumers can’t be bothered with worrying about interfaces and complicated cables and instructions. ‘It has to be as easy to use and as reliable as a toaster,’ says Munster,” LaPlante reports. ‘Most people are very dissatisfied with the current offerings, and for that reason would welcome Apple’s contribution,’ says John Gruber, a prominent Apple blogger who runs the Web site Flaming Fireball.”

MacDailyNews Note: Gruber’s site is Daring Fireball: http://daringfireball.net/ (highly recommended)

LaPlante continues, “Apple is definitely behind the pack when it comes to announcing its intentions. The company has yet to define a comprehensive vision for the digital home, and so Apple watchers are–once again–forced to read between the lines. (At the company’s annual meeting, when told by a shareholder that everyone was eagerly awaiting the ‘ultimate media center,’ Jobs replied only ‘we hear you loud and clear.’)”

LaPlante reports, “Still, analysts say that the pieces are falling into place. With the introduction of the Intel-based Mac Mini in early 2006, Apple finally had a viable digital media server (the Mac Mini) that worked with a long-distance interface (Front Row), and a wireless network (AirPort). The major functionality missing at this point is the ability to directly view and record live television, according to Tim Deal, a senior analyst with Technology Business Research. ‘You can get that from third parties, but Apple needs it to complete its own portfolio,’ says Deal.”

“Some Apple watchers believe that Apple will introduce an IP/video set-top box that will bring the Internet and video downloads directly to the TV. Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research, has predicted just that. He expects that current and future Apple technology will cumulate in a device he calls “AppleVision,” which will include digital video recording (DVR) capabilities that would make it an effective Tivo killer,” LaPlante reports.

“Indeed, many people are betting against the PC as the hub of the digital living room. It’s simply not reliably enough, for starters. In addition to all the other complexity, you’ve got ‘blue screens of death,’ viruses, and other malware that creeps in when PCs get involved in the hardware and software mix, says Phillip Swann, president of TVPredictions.com. ‘PC-based entertainment systems have a limited appeal, and will never reach the mainstream,’ declares Swann. ‘They are too complicated and confusing and designed with excessive features.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Everything we’re ever read from “Swanni” regarding Apple is complete nonsense (see related articles below). This is no exception. The obviously Windows-only “Swanni” doesn’t know that Macs don’t BSOD, have no viruses, etc. Microsoft Windows is too complicated and confusing and designed with excessive features. Apple does things different(ly).

LaPlante continues, “An end-to-end solution works when content choice isn’t an issue, points out Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research. The Mac failed largely because consumers wanted choices in their PC hardware and software.”

MacDailyNews Take: The Mac did not fail. 99% of people using a personal computer today use a real Mac or an upside-down and backwards Mac derivative (Windows.) Consumers in the early days of personal computing (and still today) bought Windows because they lacked the knowledge to make an informed choice. Choosing solely by lowest sticker price is not a smart way to buy a personal computer. People today still buy Windows simply because their friends buy Windows and their workplace uses Windows. They’re not “choosing” Windows, they just don’t know any better. In fact, people who actually use both Mac and Windows overwhelmingly choose Mac.

LaPlante continues, “Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester, adds that Apple has ‘defied conventional wisdom’ in all sorts of ways and will probably continue to do so. ‘The main thing is that Apple listens to its customers. It has the voice of the consumer in mind, and it designs for that buyer, and as the only computer company that does that, that makes it unique.'”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Does Apple face delivery issue if they want to sell movies via iTunes Store? – June 28, 2006
TV analyst says Apple’s video-capable iPod is a bust because he says so – May 03, 2006
Notes from Apple shareholders’ meeting: ‘exciting’ TV ad campaign to launch next week – April 27, 2006
TV analyst blows it, says Apple’s 12 million video downloads ‘a big disappointment’ – February 08, 2006
If Front Row can stream movie trailers from Apple, why not whole movies? – January 06, 2006
TV analyst’s uninformed prediction: ‘video iPod will be Steve Jobs’ folly’ – October 12, 2005

44 Comments

  1. As nice as this would be…I just don’t see this happening. Here’s the fundamental issue: to get anything beyond basic cable, you need a converter box from your cable company. Now, unless Apple is somehow going to partner with cable companies and integrate a cable company’s tuner with Apple’s DVR/software, it’s going to be a kludgy solution at best. You’d be asking Apple hardware to change the channel on your cable company’s tuner. TiVo already tried that, and it failed miserably–which is why they went the route of integrating their software directly into the cable company’s hardware (DireTV, and soon Comcast).

    There is zero incentive for a cable company to make their box easily controllable from a third-party box, since it would effectively be taking business away from them. And now that net neutrality has been voted down, there will be even less incentive for those large, last-mile companies to play nice with third party vendors.

    So…this ain’t happening.

  2. well my g5 powermac is a perfect media center, front row and alchemy tv, and i like them seperate as i can sit back and use front row or watch tv on my second monitor whilst working (if it were front row integrated it would black out the second screen and disable curser) – all controlled by keyspan remote and lots of films in itunes thanks to the wonderful handbrake!!

  3. “The Mac failed largely because consumers wanted choices in their PC hardware and software.””

    The Mac failed?? Holy crap somoeone forgot to tell me.

    Let me translate this line for you. “Consumers wanted choices” = “people are cheap ass bastards that will settle for a just good enough solution if it will save them a couple bucks”

  4. I hear over and over about some “set-top” Apple prodcut and you know what?

    I don’t think it’s going to happen.

    The cable companies are slowly tightening their grip with digital HDCP protected cable boxes that will only allow HDCP devices to view the content.

    Steve Jobs said long ago “Cable companies are a monopoly”

    It’s true, Hollywood likes the control they get when the customer has no control over their content. Then they can extract the most money.

    Computers give the customers total control over their content, so how is Apple going to really provide a “set-top box” when the cable companies control the content?

    This writer apparantly doesn’t read where technology is going, but you can.

  5. well my g5 powermac is a perfect media center, front row and alchemy tv, and i like them seperate as i can sit back and use front row or watch tv on my second monitor whilst working – all controlled by keyspan remote and lots of films in itunes thanks to the wonderful handbrake!!

    Ok I’ll tell you what I’ve learned, I got THREE EyeTV’s, two are ClearQAM descramblers for the very few DRM free HD channels and one is a analog descrambler for all the NTSC channels.

    But you know what? I can’t watch HDCP encrypted channels because that requires a special chip, which I can get by the way. But the output is XVGA which I need to convert into Composite/Component (with a adapter) and then into the G5 with a PCI input card. Now one format I’ll lose the HD as it drops down to a lower resolution.

    So where is the G5 Composite or Component Input card for G5s?

  6. Seems like the only way this would work is with Cable Card 2.0 support in a standalone device or add-on for the Intel Mac Mini or iMac. The federal govt has mandated the cable companies support Cable Card…but they do drag their feet because they want you to use their DVR. In fact one of the complaints I have with all these DVR solutions is that they are only good for analog because each cable company encrypts *all* of their content so you cannot use the add-ons even if they are able to record digital cable (ATSC support is really not enough for me).

  7. Anyone have any idea how this will factor in with the Microsoft-based Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) that all the major phone companies are comming out with this fall (the TV Freedom campaign)?

    Is it possible that Apple might be comming out with its on IPTV system or would Apple simply be playing catch-up at this point?

    I’ve actually been holding off buying a desktop Mac until they add the live tv/dvr feature to front row.

  8. MDN I think you are a little off here-

    “MDN: Consumers in the early days of personal computing (and still today) bought Windows because they lacked the knowledge to make an informed choice.”

    In the early days most people bought a PC because they couldn’t afford a Mac. I was one of them. Hated the PC wanted a Mac. Couldn’t afford one.

    The price difference of $5000.00 Mac or a $700.00 crappy PC is a huge selling point. That was back in the days of the Mac II.

    It had a little to do with other factors too but $$$ is the bottom line.

    I agree that the mindset is MS PC today – the change will come through Apple doing better selling through better advertising – and more of it.

  9. The problem with these Media centers is that they’re [supposedly] designed to be your computer, as well as your multimedia thingy. Apple would need to design a superior offering that is as powerful as it is intuitive and rich in multimedia software (not that they couldn’t do that- they already do), but [strictly] for the living room.

    Wireless everything, BT Keyboard and Mighty Mouse (or some kinda touchscreen keyboard/ remote). TV tuner, huge hard drives, enhanced Apple Remote, And ports for entertainment peripherals, like game consoles, vcrs, dvd players and the like, and also for any other kinds of peripherals (if this is your computer, and you do audio recording, you need something for your guitar, mic, keyboard, or whatever- the same for video recording and such.

    With the Intel chips inside however, this becomes more of a realization, as something like a G5 would not be good for a media center thing.

    Apple could do it, but I’m sure it would cost alot, not that that’s stopped anyone (myself included) from paying for superior quality and design. It would have to outperform the Media Center PCs- not a hard thing to do- but what exactly are people looking for that would make them buy a media Center Mac for $1500 as opposed to a Media Center PC for $800? And would Apple make 2 versions of OS X- one for desktop and notebooks, the other just for media center macs? Personally, I don’t think so.

    It’s a tough call, maybe WWDC will clear something up…..

  10. I want Apple to license the content so I can just go to their server and stream it when I want it. I don’t want pre-determined broadcast times and recording for playback. Cable companies need to be by-passed and rendered obscelete.

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