The ‘Apple Television’ lesson: You can’t hurry R&D, you’ll just have to wait

“The funny part about Apple’s success is that customers, shareholders and sometimes even employees think there’s a magic formula that will roll out groundbreaking products with a steady predictable and assembly line cadence,” Larry Dignan writes for ZDNet. “Let’s paraphrase the Supremes: You can’t hurry R&D. You’ll just have to wait. R&D don’t come easy…”

Dignan writes, “And sometimes you just have to scrap the product that everyone and their mom thought Apple was going to release: The Apple TV [sic “Apple Television”], also known as the most famous product never launched.”

“The R&D lesson—and Apple’s discipline—is worth noting as the latest Carl Icahn-Apple skirmish. In YALTA (yet another letter to Apple), Icahn praises Apple’s share buybacks and dividends and then goes through the rationale why shares are undervalued. One big reason is the Apple TV [sic “Apple Television”],” Dignan writes. “Cue the leak to the Wall Street Journal trick to tell Icahn to cool his jets.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple TV is a long-shipping product currently in its third iteration and likely to soon be in its fourth. Don’t use “Apple TV” to refer to the mythical “Apple Television.” It’s needlessly confusing.

When Apple looks at what categories to enter, we ask these kinds of questions: What are the primary technologies behind this? What do we bring? Can we make a significant contribution to society with this? If we can’t, and if we can’t own the key technologies, we don’t do it. That philosophy comes directly from [Steve Jobs] and it still very much permeates the place. I hope that it always will.Apple CEO Tim Cook, March 18, 2015

Related articles:
Gene Munster gives up the Apple Television ghost – May 19, 2015
Behind Apple’s move to shelve their UHD TV project – May 18, 2015

14 Comments

      1. OK, she “only” sang the words. But my post, by mentioning the voicer of the words, in place of a law-firm-sounding name, was more evocative, I felt, and in keeping with the ideas of the cleverly allusive MDN headline writer. I like when a headline pops a tune into my head, don’t you? Also, I’m sure it’s Diana, not Dianna.

        1. She performed the song indelibly, agreed….but she didn’t create the song; credit should be given to the talent behind the creation that gave her the opportunity to do that. You are correct about it being “Diana”…my bad.

  1. No one has answered the question as to whether people in the future are really going to want to watch TV as it is done now. Anecdotes in business media show sharply declining viewership, even though the population is rising.

    Morgan Stanley published numbers showing 50% decline in TV viewership in about the last dozen years!

    I will bet Apple has done tons of market research on this issue.

    1. There is NO doubt that every future television will be an Internet streaming display. I already think of them that way. The current barrier is making it seamless to switch from your conventional ‘TV’ input (air, cable, satellite, if these three even survive) to Internet ‘TV’ via Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, whatever. It all has to appear to be ‘the same thing’, all just as easy to access, no geek tech fumbling required.

  2. The TV set business is a cutthroat nightmare. Customer service is a headache. Impossible sometimes to keep people happy. There are some great display devices from others. Let them handles the hassles, let AppleTV be the gatekeeper, which it does so well.

  3. I recall that wow moment of seeing a “Mr. Fusion” unit in Back to the Future, but alas, there are yet many years of egg shells and coffee grounds R & D ahead.

  4. Carl Icahn <-Don't care.

    But if the 'Apple Television' was ever an actual R&D project, as members here have thrashed over for years, it never was a great idea. The TV market is a commodity market compared to anything Apple cares about. Of course it would have been interesting to see if there was possibly any point in selling an AppleTV box integrated into an Apple branded television. It's an experiment! But why ANYONE went all nuts over the concept is beyond my comprehension. BFD is my conclusion about the concept. Of course it wasn't going to happen. But like every human, I never know everything about anything. That's part of the point of R&D.

  5. Referring to the nonexistent “Apple Television” really doesn’t do a terribly good job of differentiating it from the very-real Apple TV, either.

    Maybe “Apple TV Set,” or “Apple Flatscreen?”

  6. How do we know that Apple TV is not launched because Product management dont think it is good enough and they keep sending it back to R&D? Apple have a history of not launching products that dont meet the high bar

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