More signals point to Apple branded HDTV launch in late 2012

Mon, Aug 29, 2011

News, Rumors

Apple’s transformative influence on technology encompasses the personal computer, the way we listen to music, and more recently, the smartphone. While Apple’s next major play remains open to speculation, an increasing number of sources are pointing to an Apple branded HDTV as being Apple’s next wide-scale initiative.

A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with Apple’s plans, reported that the next major market Apple’s eyeing is digital video and that “Apple is working on new technology to deliver video to televisions, and has been discussing whether to try to launch a subscription TV service…”

And now we have a fresh report from VentureBeat which notes:

Venture capitalist Stewart Alsop, of Alsop Louie ventures, lent credence to the “iTelevision” theory in an interview with VentureBeat. Alsop sits on the boards of TiVo and Sonos, follows the hardware industry closely, and says he has heard from multiple sources throughout Silicon Valley that the Apple television project is underway.

Clearly, Alsop, more so than the deluge of analysts who cite unnamed component manufacturers and “checks in the supply chain”, is in a position to pick up threads of information that might point to an Apple branded HDTV in the making.

While Apple is rumored to be toying with the idea of a large HDTV in the range of 42-inches or so, Alsop anticipates Apple branded TVs in 15 and 19-inch form factors hitting the scene in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season.

Perhaps, but that’s not really Apple’s style.

The company typically makes a big slash in the consumer market with a premium product and only after it’s entrenched as a runaway hit does it start offering varying models with varying features. That said, if Apple is in fact interested in getting into the HDTV market, we anticipate them releasing a high-end set that’s at least 42 inches.

“You look at TVs in Best Buy and they’re the same damn things that they’ve been building for 30, 40, 50 years,” said Alsop. Although the display technology has changed and the screens are flat and high-resolution now instead of huge, low-res cathode screens, the fundamental act of watching TV is pretty much the same: Sit back and flip the channels.

“Apple will do to television manufacturers what it did to phone makers with the iPhone,” Alsop further explained.

Earlier this Summer, a rumor surfaced suggesting Apple is planning to release an HDTV similar to the Bose VideoWave sometime in 2012. At the time, we wrote that “if Apple does in fact release an HDTV, it will incorporate Apple TV, iCloud, DVR, and iTunes App Store functionality. Indeed, this mythical TV will let users rent movies, stream movies, record TV shows, and even play games.”

And just for kicks, we thought we’d post one of Alsop’s famous quotes about Apple and Steve Jobs following the former’s acquisition of NeXT.

Let’s get this straight right away: Apple Computer did the wrong thing. On December 20, Apple announced that it would spend $400 million to purchase Steve Jobs’s company, Next Software. The company said it would adopt Next’s NextStep operating system for future versions of the Macintosh computer. Most of the commentary I’ve seen about this decision is off the mark, especially the talk about Jobs coming back to save Apple. That is sheer nonsense. He won’t be anywhere near the company.

Though in the interest of full disclosure, Alsop was furious that Apple went after NeXT and not Be Inc., a company he had a large investment in.

Still, food for thought.



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