Pundit: Apple TV-set may face ‘barrier it cannot overcome’

“In all the markets in which Apple Inc. has had success, the consumer electronics company has been a pioneer,” Douglas A. McIntyre writes for 24/7 Wall St. “If it moves into the television industry, it will lack that critical advantage, which may be a barrier it cannot overcome.”

MacDailyNews Take: Without having seen it, how can anyone know whether it is pioneering or not? With history as our guide, one thing we will state unequivocally is that, if Apple does launch a product into a new market, they will believe it is a pioneering product that will shift the paradigm. See: Mac, iPod, iTunes, iTunes Store, iPhone, App Store, iPad, etc.

“A look at the history of Apple product launches makes the point that, even if Apple manufactures and markets the best products in a sector, it additionally has the ‘first mover’ advantage, to use an overused Harvard Business School term,” McIntyre writes. “The Mac was first sold in 1984 under the name Macintosh. That put its computer in the market at the beginning of the PC age.”

MacDailyNews Take: Nice try, but no. Apple’s Mac was not a first mover. Apple themselves already had a raging success, Apple II, on the market at the time. Steve Jobs’ and team’s Macintosh shifted the paradigm, it was not a “first mover.”

McIntyre writes, “The iPod, which was first released in 2001, was an early version of portable multimedia players.

MacDailyNews Take: Early version, yes, but iPod was not first. Apple entered a market that needed to be revolutionized. iPod shifted the paradigm, it was not a “first mover.”

McIntyre writes, “The iPhone, released in 2007, was among the first smartphones aimed at the consumer market.”

MacDailyNews Take: Again, McIntyre stretches too far to rewrite history in order to support his conceit. iPhone was not the first “smartphone” (it was, of course, the first “brilliantphone”) nor was it the first “smartphone” aimed at consumers. iPhone shifted the paradigm, it was not a “first mover.”

McIntyre writes, “And the iPad was one of the first tablet PCs.”

MacDailyNews Take: Sheesh. The first “tablet PC” was described by Alan Kay (Dynabook) in 1972. Apple themselves debuted the Newton MessagePad in 1993. Microsoft has been trying (and failing) to sell Tablet PCs to suckers since 2001. Apple’s Steve Jobs debuted iPad on January 27, 2010. iPad — as with the Mac, iPod, and iPhone before it — shifted the paradigm, it was not a “first mover.”

McIntyre writes, “The television obviously has been at the center of the living room for decades… Apple’s powerful brand may help the firm to elbow its way into the living room. However, Americans already have televisions with massive screens, sophisticated audio and boxes for satellites, cable TV and even the current version of Apple TV piled high next to those screens to allow for access to a nearly infinite body of programs. Apple will be late to the TV market. That creates a barrier the company is not used to and a situation in which it has to gain on the competition from behind.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: People already had or had access to computers, portable music players, smartphones, and tablet PCs. It took Apple to revolutionize each and make consumers aspire to own them. McIntyre’s entire argument fails the test of logic and reality. Apple isn’t the first mover. In the markets in which it chooses to play, Apple is often the first one to get it right and quickly the one all others then attempt to copy.

Apple employees look at existing markets, services, and products and ask themselves, “How can we improve this, so that we would want to buy and use it?” Television is actually the perfect candidate for an Apple revolution. Stodgy and not very intuitive, the TV set calls out to Apple for help.

McIntyre’s claim that Apple will “be late to the TV market” is ridiculous, especially when he refutes it all by himself in the sentence before by mentioning “the current version of Apple TV.” If they’re already in the market, then they can’t be late, Dougie (pat on the head, run along now, boy; go have a lollipop, the adults are talking now).

The “barrier” that McIntyre tries and fails to construct is actually the condition that Apple actively seeks out and with which the Cupertino Colossus is intimately familiar. Their whole business is built upon it; it’s a foundation, not a barrier. We can almost hear Tim Cook thinking, “Hmm, mediocre products. Not very user-friendly. People don’t really know what they want or how to buy – another perfect market for us to transform!”

The Apple freight train has routinely driven through McIntyre’s ill-conceived “barrier” as if it didn’t exist, because it doesn’t.


  1. Apple also considers market size when bringing out a new product. The size of the Phone market is huge and even today it is growing, leaving tons of “space” for apple to grow within. I’m not sure the “television” market is big enough to lure Apple in at this point and people will not buy a new 50″ screen every 2 or 3 years making “television”, even if successful, kind of a single shot. TV’s are currently low margin and going lower – I don’t get it, hardware-wise there doesn’t seem to be profit.
    Maybe Apple is doing something completely different, like TV Glasses that stream from an appleTV and all those large panel displays will be extinct in 5 years. Or something like that because if they can’t completely change the experience, it’s an uphill battle with little pay back.

  2. so far i can’t figure out the point of an apple TV

    apple can’t magically get content on there without negotiating expensive contracts.
    there is no point in spending $2000 on a TV just for netflix and itunes integration. netflix even says that the PS3 is their most used device

    so far apple TV is like google glass. the fans say how cool it is, but there is no real use for it

    1. Are you referring to the rumored future Apple television set or the current AppleTV device? I think the rumors are just that: rumors, usually caused by overheard conversations where context was missed and was all-important.
      The present AppleTV device is catching on all over the place; never a barn-stormer but gaining critical mass. At $99 it’s almost a no-brainer addition to the media center. And I’m seeing more and more schools adding them to the projectors in their classrooms since they have projectors and are adding iPads very quickly.

  3. Gee MDN, you are trying just too hard to be faux fair and impartial. I agree with most of your comments about computers and music players, but come on, pull away from the MS teat about tablets.

    Sure MS/BG trumpeted tablets since 2001, but come on….. In ten years the entire tablet ‘market’ probably sold fewer in the wild really shipping slates than Apple produced as prototypes for the iPad.

    Newton and dynabook? OK, they were there, but the company and product that was the real first mover, making tablets, excuse me, pads, affordable, accessible, and put them into the hands of the general populace of end users was, without a doubt Apple with the iPad, FTW!

    1. Sounds like you got the point but don’t realize it

      Here you go… in plain English….lots of years of others failing, then apple comes along and does it right

      People buy what works, the iPad, and that is because iPad is the paradigm shift mentioned

      they will do the same for “smart TV” as they did for “smart phone” and they will sell more smart TV’s than have been produced so far by all smart TV producers so far (are there really any?)

  4. Damn, I hate it when all of you unimaginative lemmings talk about future tech. Geesh, all you have to do is actually read an article every now and then. For example…

    1. TV is rapidly moving towards the 4k tv (Google it), but with the movie industry already adopting 8k technology and has existing hardware and software, tv will bounce right over 4k and go directly to 8k. The main advantage to such resolutions are the larger and much more immersive experience, better than 3d, and you don’t need any lame glasses. Think IMax.

    2. This will require videos to be sold as Flash Drives. An 8k video is 32 (possibly 64) times the size of its HDTV equivalent; 16 times the amount of pixels AND it as up to a 120hz frame rate.

    3. Corralling all of the competing tv transmission types (cable, broadcast, DSL, etc.) would be like herding cats, but it could be the miracle that the Apple engineers could produce. Such large video data files would need a new compression algorithm, but then Apple could provide all necessary “channels” directly over the internet.

    8k video w/ 2000 streaming broadcasts. Granted it’s a ton of data, but who better to push the world into better technology than Apple? With it all fully duplexed digital, it would be up to the individual broadcasts to provide any “on demand” services. Apple doesn’t need to store anything, just act as the switching center. This would benefit the broadcaster with constant viewer info, and control of individualized advertising.

    With such an automated data switch, communications between individuals becomes even easier to set up and use.

    1. @aryugaetu:

      1) Sony already sells “Ultra HD” 3840×2160 resolution (~4k) televisions. you mean you don’t already have one? Please tell us where you purchase your 4k content.

      2) physical recorded media is a good thing. the internet infrastructure in most people’s homes & neighborhoods can’t support streaming 4k video to every home. BluRay remains the de facto standard for high definition video and probably will for several more years because its H.264 / MPEG 4 AVC format will support 4k resolution video. No streaming service even comes close.

      3) new compression algorithm not needed. but, not likely that 4k resolution could be supported by current infrastructure or, for that matter, by the iTunes store. i wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Apple to convince all production studios to distribute their products through the Apple middle-man.

      4) no, i’m not.

  5. This guy is so off base, I wouldn’t trust him on anything else he writes. He’s supposed to know what’s going on in the tech industry? The iPhone was did to the cell industry what an Apple TV could do for the TV business. Yes there were phones and many even called them smart phones, UNTIL the IPhone came along, Then everybody got it. I hated using the archaic Motorola Razor. It was a nightmare. However it did have internet, contacts etc. etc. etc. the same options as the IPhone except the Razor stunk. Then along came the IPhone and showed people how easy and efficient it could be. I’m writing this from my hotel room with THREE remotes by my side that took me ten minutes to figure how to turn the bleeping TV on. Who do you think will solves this mess that’s been around since the 70’s? It will be Apple! McIntyre, you might really want to redo your research. Just sayin.

  6. Decades before the TV entered the living room there was the radio.
    Televisions evolved and the first gen looks absolutely nothing like the latest generation.
    Who says Apple can create a ‘shift’ – even in a mature market

  7. I don’t think Apple is going to attempt to just make a better tv. If they do it it will be integrated into their entire eco system somehow. I think subsidised tv’s with content contracts where they can have product cycle refreshes every 2 years or so makes some sense. Whatever they do it will have to blow the other tv makers out of the water for a few years or they won’t even try it. Whatever their plan is it is probably bigger than most are expecting. Whether or not it actually gets implemented remains to be seen.

  8. When I saw the Philips Hue light bulb launch at the AppleStore I started to think that maybe Apple is working with Philips onto something.

    Philips technologies, like Ambilight, are well ahead the competition and Philips doesn’t sell 399$ TVs… I don’t know, just thinking aloud (and probably wrong).

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