Apple TV Rumours Appearing Again - New York Times

written by: Richard Kastelein

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There is no question that television is the next frontier in interactive services... but will Apple seriously enter the fray? This week it appears the answer could a yes again. Is competition from the likes of Intel, Samsung, Google, Yahoo, IPTV et al. pushing Apple attempt to turn their “hobby” into a strong competitor in this market?

Though we have covered it, and it's on the record from only a couple of months ago, Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying that the Apple TV is still just a “hobby”.  Well Nick Bilton from the New York Times blogged a piece providing contrary news this weekend - penning a piece called, "Apple Hopes to Re-enter the Living Room", which apparently has Apple eyeing the big screen more aggressively this week again. At appmarket.tv we have also bounced back and forth on rumours in the trade and consumer press on the issue - with recent article titles including, Apple TV's new functions revealed , Jobs Back Into TV 2.0? Engadget Gets Inside Info on New Apple TV, and Steve Jobs Reaction to Google TV - Tepid at Best.

Now that “hobby” might be heading for a major overhaul, according to yet another flood of rumours making rounds online, starting at the NYT's again:

According to several people familiar with Apple’s television-related efforts, the company is working on an update to its television software, and will offer a completely redesigned interface for it. These people refused to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly about Apple’s upcoming products. And company officials declined to comment about any plans for the Apple TV or for other television-related products.

...Another person, who recently left Apple and was involved with the company’s television group, said some of the more advanced work on the next version of the TV is not taking place within the Apple TV group, but within another design group in the company—this could signal an entirely new product.

And this new system, could very well base a new television design on its iOS operating system, which is on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Electronista details what the new Apple TV will be:

“While the NYT wasn’t certain what the product would be, the device is expected to largely be an iPhone 4-sized box with an A4 processor and 16GB of storage that would focus on streaming rather than local caching. Although smaller and just $99, it would be more powerful and could support 1080p video.”

Michael Gartenberg, a partner with the consulting firm Altimeter Group told the New York Times:

“I suspect it’s only a matter of time before this hobby gets turned into a business, the TV space is too important to ignore... The TV remains one of the last disconnected devices in the household and everyone is trying to figure it out.”

This one commenter at the NYT's piece caused a chuckle:

It's amazing how much the media allows Apple to plays them with their mysterious sources and clandestine meetings in parking garages to disclose Jobs' next passing of gas. The Apple sycophants are buzzing, eyes glazing, mouths drooling, already in line to hand their ducats for whatever drippings King Steve serves. Big Deal! There are dozens of boxes already on shelves accomplishing exactly the same thing. For less and probably better. DAMN! No Apple logo in it though. Times, why do you so quickly line up at the Apple trough? Quite sick of the constant commercial.

In related news... In a note to clients, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, published on CNN, makes the case that Apple is well positioned to have great success in television the same way it did with cellular telephony with the iPhone. Munster also thinks that Apple is preparing a stand-alone, Internet-connected TV for release within the next two to four years. Providing that this belief will come true, Munster notes that Apple Internet TV could be the sixth major hit of Steve Jobs’s career, the successor to Apple II, Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Munster cites several reasons to believe Apple is working on such a project. Among them:

  • The hobby. The Apple TV set-top box, which Jobs refers to as a "hobby," has not had a hardware update since it was released more than three years ago -- an eternity in the life of an Apple product. Despite that, writes Munster, he sees "several indications that the company remains interested in the digital living room."
  • The home theater. Munster interprets the release of the new Mac mini with a built-in HDMI output as a sign that the company is trying to simplify the process of making the Mac the center of a home theater. "We see this as a small, intermediate step towards a larger move into the living room with an all-in-one, connected TV," he writes. "Also, recent media reports have indicated that Apple may soon release an updated, low-cost Apple TV set-top-box with updated software and possibly an App Store, further indication of continued interest in the living room and progress towards a television."
  • The hurdles. Munster notes that in June, Jobs identified subsidized set-top-boxes and a lack of TV broadcast standards as the primary hurdles in the industry. "The TV industry has a subsidized model that gives everyone a set top box for free," Jobs told the audience at D8. "So no one wants to buy a box." One solution to this problem, says Munster, is to create an all-in-one, connected TV that does not require an extra box. As for the lack of standards, Apple could get around that with an Internet-based iTunes TV Pass that would sell for $50-$90 per month. "Such a product," writes Munster, "could effectively replace a consumer's monthly cable bill (~$85/month) and offer access to current and older episodes of select shows on select channels."

The AppleTV is perhaps Apple's worst kept secret, abut one that could be the holy grail of the company's future. Most speculation has placed the reworked Apple TV's debut at the company's traditional media-focused event, which normally takes place in late summer or early fall. Hat tip to Paul Farkas for the tip.


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