Why there’s no Apple Television and why Apple should buy Dolby Labs

“At least twice over the past decade Apple has been close to announcing its own television,” Robert X. Cringely writes for BetaNews. “Not the Apple TV set top box but actual big screen TVs with, well, big screens. But both times I’ve heard about this Apple backed away at the last minute. The reason why they did was because even an Apple television would be just another television with an Apple logo. Steve Jobs realized that TVs had become a commodity and there didn’t seem to be an obvious way to make Apple’s television special.”

“I’m not here to say Apple has finally found its TV design path as suggested in Walter Isaacson’s book and will be doing a big screen TV after all. In fact I’m pretty sure Apple will never sell its own TVs,” Cringely writes. “But I think Cupertino has finally figured out a way to grab an important and profitable part of nearly all TVs, controlling the future of video entertainment in the process.”

“The technical area I think Apple wants to dominate is High Dynamic Range (HDR) video — technology for making displays of all types brighter and display more colors. Right now there are two major video advances entering the market — 4K and HDR — and tests show HDR is a much more obvious improvement than 4K for viewers,” Cringely writes. “At around $6 billion Dolby would be cheap for Apple to buy. The quality of Dolby engineering is such that Apple would be thrilled to have the people, too, not just their technology. And as a part of Apple the resources Dolby engineers could command would grow exponentially.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Dolby would be Apple’s biggest acquisition, but with only about 1,700 employees, it’d certainly be manageable if Apple considered Dolby’s IP compelling enough.


  1. I don’t think Apple needs to make a TV screen. They just need to make Apple TV a compelling enough ecosystem that it will cause people to put that in HDMI1.

    I am in my 50’s, haven’t cut the cable cord, but would really like to. Thing is, I really like to DVR stuff and like the convenience of the Comcast X1 system.

  2. I don’t see the overlap here. HDR TV is great–I’ve seen Dolby’s demo–but that’s not nearly enough reason for Apple to take the plunge. Most of Dobly’s business is based around licensing (to any manufacturer with the money to pay). They also have a considerable presence in the movie theater and on the dub stage. Just can’t see Apple going in that direction.

  3. This would fit with the move to “services” discussed often in these threads. Dolby is a cash machine, harvesting license fees from manufacturers worldwide for surround (e.g. SR, Atmos), etc. They had huge hits with Dolby A, B, C for tape, then (quietly) developed early streaming algorithms for Real. Whatever else Dolby has in the pipeline will be perfectly timed to ride new trends — and teamed with Apple, could do even more.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.