Tech analyst sees Apple eventually introducing TV set of its own

“Steven P. Jobs is rebooting Apple’s digital movie effort and putting the company squarely in the middle of an intensifying industry battle to download movies and Internet content to high-definition televisions,” Matt Richtel and Brad Stone report for The New York Times.

“On Tuesday at Macworld Expo, an annual trade show, Mr. Jobs announced that the company is adding movie rentals from all the major Hollywood studios to its iTunes download service. Mr. Jobs said that more than 1,000 regular definition and about 100 high-definition movies would be available by the end of February,” Richtel and Stone report.

“He also unveiled a sequel to Apple’s year-old, unsuccessful AppleTV — a set-top box designed to play those movies on a high-definition television set. The older version of AppleTV [sic], introduced last year, required a computer connection. The newer version connects directly to the Internet and allows consumers to select movies and TV shows to watch directly from their TVs,” Richtel and Stone report.

MacDailyNews Take: 800,000 or so Apple TV units with little or no marketing, no movie rentals, no direct to iTunes ability, etc. in 11 months is “unsuccessful?” Richtel and Stone also don’t seem to understand that all existing Apple TV units are now “the newer version,” too. A free software update adds all of the capabilities to those 800,000 or so Apple TVs already out in the market; Apple TVs that are ready and waiting to rent content, we might add.

Richtel and Stone continue, “Anxious to defend themselves from these rivals, cable and satellite companies are expanding their own on-demand offerings. Comcast, one of the nation’s largest cable companies, said last week it would have 6,000 movies available on demand by next year, with half of those in high-definition… Apple’s offering is not a radical departure from what its competitors offer. It will charge $3.99 for new releases, $4.99 for new releases in high-definition, and $2.99 for older movies. Consumers can store the movie for 30 days, but can watch the movie only during a single 24-hour period.”

MacDailyNews Take: Comcast’s and the others’ offerings will not be portable and playable on 150 million Apple iPod and iPhones, not to mention Macs and PCs. That fact alone is a radical departure.

Richtel and Stone continue, “Richard Doherty, research director of Envisioneering, a technology assessment firm, said that AppleTV was the best solution to date for getting movie downloads. But he said consumers ultimately may favor a way to get digital content onto their televisions that does not involve buying or installing another box… He believes that Apple, hoping to compete with manufacturers that have integrated Internet access technology into televisions, will eventually introduce a TV set of its own. ‘We’re fairly sure they’ve been working on that, and it might be a summer announcement,’ Mr. Doherty said.”

Full article here.

28 Comments

  1. Until Steve takes over the living room, his tee vee venture is a failure and he doesn’t like to fail. So, you can look to hang a 120-inch Apple flat screen on your wall in a couple of years – even if he has to sell ’em at a loss to get your attention among the over crowded field of HDTV makers. Apple’s China corps are waiting, willing and able – eagerly so!

  2. Nah! I can see Apple OEMing some hardware board so that the TV vendors can install it and integrate it — using an Apple supplied SDK –directly into their TVs. That would be a win/win. Apple ought not get committed to a hardware technology that could be blind-sided by new technology. This happens all the time.

    The article’s suggestion conflicts with Apple’s business model. It would make Apple vulnerable to new technology rather than let Apple profit from new technology by supplying superior software and system integration with its high quality hardware.

  3. 1. Apple TV is on a subscription model because they *knew* it would take time to get it where it needs to be. The device is only a fraction of the equation… the studios needed to be on board, and it was an easier sell by saying that 800,000 unit are already installed. It just took a year to get to that point. More units would’ve been nicer, and that’s what Jobs was referring to by saying it hasn’t worked yet.

    2. Steve would never sell a product at a loss. He’d just build a better product.

  4. Not likely.

    Not enough margin for Apple… TV’s are commodities, not an area Apple would want to play in.

    Plenty of good TV’s out there already. What would Apple want to change.

    But then again it’s possible Apple could see something none of us do…and so produce the ‘Not a TV set as you know it TV’.

  5. The 24 hour thing is bad news. You watch content on an iPod to help kill time–on a bus or subway, waiting in line for something, in an airport lounge, on an airplane.

    Except for the last example, you don’t often have a continuous block of time, so you watch in chunks. You also don’t often have a complete attention span, so this lends itself sometimes to repeat viewings over time. For comedies especially, I miss a lot the first time because I’m distracted in the bus or subway or whatever, such as staying alert for the upcoming stop.

    I would hate to be stranded in an airport somewhere waiting for a connecting flight, pull out the iPod to resume watching a movie I started watching the day before, and have it expire on me.

    I know the problem is the studios but we need Apple to use it’s muscle to get better terms for the customer as they did with music. Everyone will win.

  6. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the cable companies who are also ISPs.

    Comcast (and others?) already block/retard P2P traffic. Will they block iTunes movies, which are competition to their own VOD offerings?

  7. I’ve been contemplating the right way to distribute sound & video in my newly designed home and I think the Apple TV may be the right way to do this. I can have a LCD TV and Apple TV in every room where I want to control sound/video and I can have different program material everywhere there is an Apple TV – along with remote control.
    I can store the stuff on a Terabyte drive. I can even have a slide show in every room. All done WIRELESSLY.
    I think this may be a market that the ‘smart’ home folks may be missing. (but not for long, I’ll wager)

  8. Unobtrusive DRM with strong enough restrictions that even the movie studios like it. Hang on…Did Apple just do with movie rentals what Napster couldn’t do with music subscriptions?

    W-o-o-o-o-o-o-w.

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