Apple could allow rumored iTV owners to upgrade every year using A-series modules

“Like many TV makers at CES, Apple’s rumored entry into the HDTV market was the specter in the room at Samsung’s Monday afternoon press conference,” John Brownlee reports for Cult of Mac.

“However, unlike other makers who are flailing around blindly trying to add new bullet points to their spec sheets in the face of Apple entering the industry, Samsung’s next-gen Smart TV has a plan,” Brownlee reports. “Here’s the primary dilemma of Apple entering the HDTV market. Apple’s whole business strategy essentially rests in selling customers a newer, shinier, better version of a device every two-three years. How do you apply that model to televisions, though? … People don’t buy televisions that way. But what if, instead of selling people a brand new TV every two-three years, you make your money by selling them modular upgrades on a yearly basis, and a major new set only every five-ten years.”

Brownlee reports, “So imagine this. You spend $2,000 on an Apple iTV with a top-of-the-line A6 processor, but when Apple announces the iTV 2, it’s not an upgrade to the display: it’s an affordable upgrade to the iTV A6 module that gives any iTV out there the same core processing and video power as the latest model.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” and “Jax44” for the heads up.]

22 Comments

  1. I still don’t see how Apple would cover the range of screen sizes needed to make this work. Sure you can upgrade the processor but if it’s tied to anything less than a 58″ 1080p plasma screen that I currently have (and have had since April 2010) it’s a no-sale for me. I have a big living room and anything smaller would just get lost. For other people, that size is too big and too expensive.

  2. I agree. I don’t see actual tv displays making sense for Apple. Too many variables. The Apple line us very focused and streamlined which is something that tv sets are not. They may offer a couple sets for the technophile and as show case, but I see that Apple Tv will always be available as stand alone box and that’s where the main stream sonsuner will purchase.

  3. This Apple TV concept is pretty silly — the Apple TV already exists — it’s not the display, but the smarts. Why install a card into a television when you can just plug in a single HDMI connector? Cable TV/Satellite/Antenna goes into the box, as does DVD, etc. and all accessible through a FrontRow interface along with built-in apps, streaming, etc. One HDMI connection to the TV and everything is accessed through the on-screen FrontRow/AppleTV style interface.

    Just AppleTV with more capability.

    1. Yep. I always figured the best TV would be one with an external tuner. By leaving out the intelligence from the TV you lower the cost significantly. Add on an AppleTV that has a tuner and a variety of inputs as well as AirPlay and you have
      “cracked” the TV problem.

  4. How about this, Johnny Brown?…

    Shut up!

    Maybe Apple will get the hardware right the first time around (unlike Samsung) and make software updates when required (and make various apps a possiblility from the get go).

    Maybe Samsung are sweating balls and doesn’t know what Apple has in store, so they created a hardware plug in architecture in order to (attempt to) duplicate Apple’s offerings after the fact of creating their own product.

    Maybe your insight of a $2,000 price tag for an iTV is off the mark.

    Maybe you don’t know shit, and Samsung is creating DOA technology, and future upgrades will be trivial or non-existant like their phones.

    I think there are too many maybes and too many props for Samsung in this article. Maybe Samsung paid you to say this crap.

  5. They all seem like answers looking for a problem and an all access pass/lock-in to consumer wallets.

    Here are the natural way of things.

    TV good. Interactive netTV not so much. Viewers often want to cozy up with a cup of chocolate milk in front of some lame sitcom, and not Tweet the world about it.

    Nielson ratings can be important; how else can we explain Jay Leno. But that doesn’t mean, all of us want to broadcast to Google et al. all the shows we like to watch and when. It’s not enough they have wiretapped our internet habits and cellphone locations, they need to know when we watch the lamest show we’re not proud of in our privacy.

    A la carte is good, that’s why God had created torrents, I mean iTunes. The solution is evolutionary and already exists. I don’t see any need to force subscription models and proprietary format wars on us.

    Finally, if Mr. Jobs had cracked the living room “problem”, good on him. I’m glad as how things are right now, without advertisers and Studios meddle things up in uber greed.

  6. The current Apple TV is great (I’ve got two of them). But it’s only a simple interface once I’ve got all the sources on the television and amplifier adjusted, and then the television has to switch resolutions automatically, which it usually does okay but causes an unsmooth transition. As it is, it’s just one more thing I’ve got tethered to a fairly complicated setup (I use a programmable logitech remote for my main home theater system and between my amp, HDMI switches and three sources it’s a bloody mess).

    So . . . if Apple can apply its uncommon brilliance to somehow solve this problem and make these various devices work together (or completely eliminate some) then it’s got a chance. If not, just keep things how they are and bump the Apple TV to 1080p and keep working on better content deals.

    1. “Ding Ding Ding” We have a winner.

      The *only* way to do this doing all of the A/V switching the the TV itself. Then you can provide a beautiful UI on the TV itself, controlled by a simple remote with 2 buttons and a d-pad (sound familiar, see Apple Remote). Or Siri.

      So you connect your HDMI devices into the TV, and it has a single HDMI (or digital audio) out to the A/V amp. The A/V amp and connectivity is greatly simplified vs. today’s receivers as it doing no switching just decoding what it gets and sending to speakers. it needs one input, once cable.

      On screen you see a UI that, along with iTunes, iCloud, and apps, *includes* your external devices, like “Play PS3” and “Watch DVR”. When you choose one, you see it on TV – and it’s audio signal is sent through the HDMI “out” to the simplified A/V amp.

      This UI also can also overlay a HUD on top of EVERY connected device since it’s doing the switching. So you can see volume, incoming app notifications (“your turn” or “you’re invited”, even video chat on top of what you are watching.

      Apple has figured this out.

  7. MacBook Pros are available in 12″, 15″ and 17″.

    It stands to reason that, should Apple choose to enter the HDTV set market, they would build three most popular screen sizes (perhaps 40″, 48″, 60″ or something like that).

  8. pundits worry too much about the physical nature of the device and why that is not enough to entice them. I believe this is far far more about what we watch, how we know what is out there, and beyond the limits of cable operators.

    For example, do we really all need to have our own copy of everything we DVR? We do not do that with youtube.

    Do we really need to be limited watching what the cable operators want us to watch?

    Do we really need to pay for bundle of channels? Most people watch a limited number of channels set as favorites.

    DO WE …

    Also, there is nothing cast in stone, so I do not see why Apple cannot strive to also sell TVs that get upgraded every say 6 years and make it’s margins on selling content. Apple’s cash would easily allow it to take it’s massive data center and provide better entertainment center.

    The existing AppleTV will provide some functionality for those who do not need a physical TV providing a tier market.

    Long AAPL

  9. “Do we really need to be limited watching what the cable operators want us to watch?”

    The cable companies own the pipes. Therefore they control what goes through those pipes and into our homes.

  10. This reminds me of the days when you paid $1,700 for a Radius accelerator board for your Mac Plus/IIci and got a whopping increase of 10Mhz.

    I think the idea has merit. I just don’t believe Apple is developing a TV. Not until Apple announces it. Until then all the speculation in the world is just noise.

  11. Seems to me that if Apple enters the TV market it’ll be in a way that completely catches everyone off guard. It’s pretty funny watching these goofball tech pubs try and equate themselves to Apple level of thinking.
    Pretty much the only think sure about whatever Apple does next will be the first words out of your mouth….”Holy Shit!”

  12. There are three things that a TV needs: Content, Content and Content. The problem has been the variety of sources to get that content and see it easily when you want. Cable operators have long used the ‘channel’ model and physical media players rely on the user to select and load the videos. The only viable option seems to be for Apple to aggregate the cable signals, your DVD’s, your BlueRays, your VCR tapes and stream them. The problem has been to get the content from the cable operators.

    It is not the hardware silly, it’s the content and the rights that have to be changed. Steve Jobs did it for music remember. Just use some thought and consider the obvious solution . . . it is not Siri or voice control, it is not hardware, it is software and digital rights and time shifting but seamlessly. It is content.

  13. “Brownlee reports. “Here’s the primary dilemma of Apple entering the HDTV market. Apple’s whole business strategy essentially rests in selling customers a newer, shinier, better version of a device every two-three years. How do you apply that model to televisions, though?”

    This is not Apple’s whole business strategy. It is not even’s Apple’s business strategy.

    Apple’s strategy does involve great products and innovation. However, just because they release a new version of something frequently, does not mean that all product lines rely on this for profitability.

    For example, the vast majority of people do not replace their laptop or their desktop frequently. Although I suspect the upgrade rate on iPhones is quite high, sales of hardware is really only part of the profit there. People that do not upgrade still provide revenue to Apple via their carrier subscription (from which Apple gets a cut) and spend money via the App store. The iPhone market is also being expanded by selling the old versions at a discounted rate.
    I also suspect that iPods have a much lower user upgrade rate than iPhones. The features/specs on iPhones tend to be quite large between each iteration, but they change more slowly with iPods before the Touch.

    I suspect that if Apple does an HDTV, it will be like a desktop. If the HDTV runs Apps, then this would be a revenue stream. This will also direct more traffic to video content via iTunes, but I don’t know how profitable that really is. The advantage there is simply keeping people in the ecosystem.

  14. Here’s how I see it working out… Apple doesn’t even produce a “TV” but rather new larger displays that connect directly to new AppleTV breakout boxes that house all the “connections.”

    The displays themselves will be nothing more than a screen and speakers (and possibly a few ports on the back to connect external speakers/audio equipment if so desired). These displays will connect to the breakout boxes via a Thunderbolt cable… trimming down the number of cables connected to the display itself to just two; power and video/audio feed.

    There will be a few models of the breakout boxes (AppleTVs) that consumers can choose from, depending on their needs.

    The simplest being something similar to the current model AppleTV that has a Thunderbolt port rather than an HDMI connection, but will ship with an adapter, so people can connect them to regular TVs as they do now.

    The other models will have various other types of connections that act as a hub for other A/V devices; HDMI, Component, Composite, optical, Coax, etc.

    They will all come standard with a bluetooth based remote that allows for voice control if the box is connected to the internet.

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