In the wake of Steve Jobs claiming in his biography that he “cracked” the problems inherent in creating an integrated HDTV, not to mention reports that iPod and iTunes guru Jeff Robbin is heading up development efforts on an Apple Television set, Nick Bilton of the New York Times writes that the missing piece to Apple’s TV aspirations is Siri.
Steve Jobs was famously button adverse and it’s clear that any Apple HDTV would present a simplified user interface along with a very minimalist remote.
Alternative remote ideas floated by Apple included a wireless keyboard and mouse, or using an iPod, iPhone or iPad as a remote. None of these concepts worked. But there was one “I finally cracked it” moment, when Apple realized you could just talk to your television.
Adding more fuel to the speculative fire, Bilton claims to have spoken to a number of Apple employees who said that while the company isn’t currently building an HDTV set, such a product is in the pipeline. One anonymous source went so far as to tell Bilton, “Absolutely, it is a guaranteed product for Apple. Steve thinks the industry is totally broken.”
What’s more, Bilton relays a report from someone purporting to have knowledge of Apple’s overseas supply chain who claims to have seen “large parts” belonging to Apple, and which could ultimately be a part of an HDTV, floating around.
So where’s the Apple television? The company still has quite a bit of work to do on the project. Apple has perfected ultra-thin, portable devices — the Macbook Air, iPhone and iPods, for example — but it has not applied this innovation to gadgets that hang on a wall, yet.
The company also needs to wait until the cost of large displays falls. Although some 42-inch LCD televisions from mainstream consumer electronics companies can cost as little as $500, the Apple television would include computer electronics and other technology that may make the price uncompetitive.
Moreover, it’s important to remember that the HDTV industry is fraught with issues Apple might not want to deal with. For starters, HDTV sets are already quite elegant and sleek. To that end, an Apple offering will of course have to come in some slick hardware, but if it really wants to sell it’ll have to deliver with software. And even assuming Apple HDTVs sell quite well, the margins in the HDTV industry are notoriously low. And say what you will about Apple, but they love their exceedingly high gross margins.
In any event, the NYT claims that we can anticipate an HDTV announcement by the end of 2012 at the earliest.