Cramer: Apple’s ‘iTV’ all about ease-of-use; Apple shares are going higher

“I often feel that when it comes to Apple, there are those who use the iPod and therefore know that it is the king and won’t be toppled, and there are those who don’t use it and are always willing to think that competitors may get an edge on the iPod,” Jim Cramer writes for RealMoney.

Cramer writes, “I see a lot of things and hear a lot about the hardware and software that is going to win the living room. I thought they are almost all nonsense until I read about the iTunes-PC-to-TV device (nicknamed iTV).”

“I find all the other movie alternatives clunky. I like the one device, one clicker thing. I like the fact that everything is so easy to use and I don’t need some guy coming to my house to program a complicated remote. I expect it will be as easy as plugging my iPod into my Bose unit after I download music,” Cramer writes. “It’s the ease. It’s how much fun it all is. It’s how you can’t live without it. Which is why, in reality, Apple’s going higher.”

“I remain adamant that Apple may be one of those companies that has become, overnight, the new de facto standard. It is the must-own name for tech funds and generalist funds alike,” Cramer writes.

Full article here.

Steve Jobs gives sneak peek of Apple’s “iTV” wireless set-top box:

Related articles:
Apple + Living Room = Logical Marriage + Boon for Stockholders – September 13, 2006
The Register: Apple event more like ‘No Show’ than ‘Showtime’ – September 13, 2006
The Telegraph: Steve Jobs’ genius making people desire gadgets for which they have absolutely no use – September 13, 2006
The Guardian: Steve Jobs needs ‘a charisma download, Apple risks being left behind’ – September 13, 2006
Mark Cuban: Things that are special about Apple’s announcements – September 13, 2006
Apple’s ‘iTV’ strategy – September 13, 2006
How will Apple’s ‘iTV’ work? – September 13, 2006
The Observer’s iPod FUD: Apple iPod is ‘wilting away before our eyes’ – September 10, 2006
Apple eyes living room market with device codenamed ‘iTV’ – September 12, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV model ‘the gold standard for the digital home of the future’ – September 12, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV ‘will be hard for other players to match’ – September 12, 2006
Apple gives sneak peek of ‘iTV’ set-top box to debut Q1 2007 (with images) – September 12, 2006
Apple’s QuickTime stream of Steve Jobs special event now live – September 12, 2006
NFL and Apple team up to offer 2006 NFL game highlights via iTunes Store – September 12, 2006

36 Comments

  1. “Cramer is someone who only recently did an about face on Apple. The tides are turning.”

    Actually you’re way off there. I’ve been watching what Kramer has said about Apple for a couple years and he’s been pretty bullish on AAPL. There may be a moment where maybe he’s doubting his own advice, during those times when Apple seems to be in a product lull, but for the most part he has been very positive.

    Most importantly he understands what kind of company Apple is, and those are the ones he calls Best of Breed. He gets it.

  2. XBOX– you’re completely missing something because you see only through your own eyes. Example: my 70 year old Mom won’t buy an Xbox. She would by a Mac and related items (already 3 iPods, go figure). Neither will anyone I work with. All are educated, up and coming PhDs. They are busy with their lives and don’t want the hassle of fighting with. what is to them, a toy. They will, however, consider something that gets out of their way. Hence, two recent Mac converts this year.

    This is what I have been shouting for years to the tech gurus who complain to me that Apple limits them too much– Apple makes tech approachable for practically everyone who ISN’T a techy. If you’re a techy, you may not get that. I don’t want to tinker and configure and cajole: I want it all to work, and work so well that it looks like I’m a techy! That’s what Apple does well.

    I don’t want a CS degree. Most people don’t. Herein lies the paradox. While M$ and its ilk promise to lower prices to make tech more accessible, they slaughter the user’s ability to interface with it well. So, despite their claims, they stifle tech for the masses. Instead of everyone doing really cool stuff with it, most just do mundane tasks, if anything. But Apple– who seems expensive and “elite” to anyone who only takes a cursory glance– makes the average user seem to be semi-professional. That is really computing for the masses. That’s thinking different.

  3. R,

    Er, yuh. I’m on the Apple bandwagon, kid, since 1984 when I used a Mac at my first job. I bleed six colors. Don Crabb’s death date is in my iCal for observation. I still have my system discs all the way back to 7.

    BUT…

    You sound like you’ve never even used an XBOX> They are trivial to set up and use.

    Let’s not be so loyalist as to have our heads up Steve’s butt the whole time, ok?

    I was asking for discussion and speculation not a hyperbolic dogmatic diatribe.

    Harumph!

  4. If the iTV had blue ray or even a regular DVD slot and an internet browser then it could be the true center of the living room. If it had all this you could ditch your tivo, dvd, and media center pc. All this without any complex software(windows and osx). Before you say it, I now osx is not that complex to use but compared to the iTV it is.

  5. There is nothing stopping Apple from making this a modular endeavor, too, which iTV is but only a component thereof.

    (top of stack) — iTV for networking and OS/UI.
    (another stack) — DVD player (and/or burner) with HD and blueray.
    (bottom stack) — HDD RAID storage at various sizes; rip from cable/video input or save a stream.

    Mix’n’match. Different specs and pricepoints.

    ???

  6. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with and XBox– it’s just that most people won’t ever look at them because they’re marketed as gaming machines.

    Without realizing it, you prove my point. You appear to see only how young people buy. The number of “grown” people looking at gaming machines isn’t as big as it seems when you’re in the crowd.

    If you hadn’t thought of it already, while young people tend to spend a lot of cash, for the most part, they’re not as able to make purchases as older folks. The iPod is an example of this– purchases of the iPod started with adults, not kids. It was later that teens and young adults thought they had discovered something. It’s not the kids who spent the cash for the most part, it’s their parents. Don’t mistake Apple’s popularity with its newfound buzz– this is not entirely a young-driven phenomenon.

    As for hyperbolic dogmatic diatribe, I have no defense. Wasn’t my intention. But let me guss: techy?

  7. XBOX?,

    Agreed. The Xbox is easy to set up and use, BUT it carries an image of games; mindless and violent games for teenage boys. So it’s a niche, a big niche but not mainstream adult. And that’s why Nintendo is trying to differentiate itself from Xbox360 and PS3 with the Wii; with a pronounced move toward more adult gaming.

    If MS wants the Xbox to play a bigger role, it will have to re-image it alongside the Zune. It is the marketing of a simple message, but we know how poorly MS does that.

    In another example, HP has been busy readying much of the same pieces as Apple. They don’t have an iTunes store, but they have a TV interface for photos, videos, and music (Media Center), and they even HP entertainment services, which I think includes a photo service, videos, and games. They sell flat-screen TVs (MediaSmart) that has wifi in it to connect to PCs and to the Web. But how many people do you think say HP and think about that instead of Dunn and illegal spying in the boardroom. Beyond getting it to just work, isn’t it about marketing a message?

    So Xbox does just work. MCE even just works a good deal of the time and can even record TV (but it is missing that polish in the little things). And MS and HP just can’t tell a story that people understand.

  8. Was looking at the new iMacs on my computer at work (windows 98 box, the horror!!) Pointed out the new 24″iMac to coworker. His comment. “Cool, I’ve heard that Macs are pretty much the way to go these days!” (nice to hear that sentiment instead of the usual)

  9. NewType,

    You nailed it. The word vision is much overused in the business world, but Apple actually has it. And their history since Steve Jobs return after years in the wilderness will be the subject of business schools for at least decades to come. But in addition to the vision, which Steve Jobs had in his first incarnation at Apple, is the well oiled planning and execution. I am embarrassed by hagiographies of leaders, especially business leaders. But Steve Jobs is truly awesome in his skills and courage of his convictions. Cramer sees it. The quants with their charts and technical analysis may be of use for short term traders – aka, speculators. But they miss the long term prospects for Apple.

    The road to the digital living room will be difficult. Bandwidth sucks for downloading and will especially suck with the growth in high definition video. I suspect that this is an area where Apple and Google have partnership plans – though I have heard nothing on this subject. The telcos way over price and under perform the delivery of bandwidth. Google must smell blood. And Apple could provide them with the demand to fill the bandwidth that they could supply. Keep in mind that Google makes shipping container sized communication modules that are meant to rapidly deploy local communications capability. By adding some high performance wireless capability, they could compete with the local phone and cable companies. Is this how Apple will beat the bandwidth problem? I don’t know, but I am confident that Apple is working furiously on solving this problem.

    Apple is betting that Disney will make so much money that the other studios will come running. It’s a risky bet, but it just could work.

    The one thing Apple should never do is cave into the cynicism of the defeatists. That leads to failure. Apple could fail in this effort, but they have a real chance to pull it off. Go for it Apple.

  10. Another important part to this story is the history of M$ and Media Centers. They created a semi-capable product too early. It created apathy, except amongst the most tech-driven. So now, even if they’re pretty good, most people aren’t even looking that direction.

    Enter Apple. This pre-announcement of “iTV” is strategic on two fronts (at least): 1. show the content providers what’s coming to prime the pump and urge participation, and 2. throw the idea to the Apple-iPod-Mac buyers who have recently been exposed to the cool stuff available through Apple, as an appetizer. Now, there are millions who may consider this device, when before they thought nothing of this matter, at all.

    Then, in 2007, if Apple is true to past behavior (the best predictor of future behavior), it will somehow over-deliver on the end product. It may not be a huge over-deliver, but for a public that has been treated like crap by its “tech leaders,” the generosity will be a breath of fresh air. And a positive review from your neighbor holds far more weight than a stranger. A dozen such reviews is even better.

    Is this hopeful? Absolutely. But conversations involving Apple have changed, as of late. This scenario is plausible for sure.

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