Speculation first began to surface regarding the possibility of Apple entering the television set market right around January of this year, when Gene Munster, senior analyst for Piper Jaffray, outed he himself believed such a product was already in development by the company. More specifically, he noted that he expected Apple to unveil the product, next year.
This report was later followed by the unveiling of a job listing on Apple.com in February, which appeared to hint that the company was hiring an engineer to work on the ‘Apple Television Set’.
The job position read:
In this position, you will be part of pride developing innovative designs, which are implemented in products used by millions of people. The position primarily involves high-density offline power supply’s development for Apple’s next generation Macintosh platforms spanning from notebook computers, desktop computers, servers, standalone displays and TV.
However, not everyone was convinced at the idea. In late February, Don Reisinger of SlashGear noted that, despite rampant speculation and excitement surrounding the rumored television set, he was “not nearly as excited” as everyone else.
Just about everyone is wondering what kind of television Apple would sell. And they want to know if it would move that market forward the same way the iPod changed the music industry and the iPhone changed the smartphone business.
But I’m not nearly as excited. I believe that the most Apple will do if it ever offers a television is integrate iTunes into the set. The technology just isn’t there for the company to drastically change the way we interact with televisions or dramatically improve quality over other sets in the space.
Moreover, I’m not sold on the idea that Apple will be able to command the television market with the same “cool” factor that it has delivered elsewhere.
Like it or not, there are already some really “cool” sets in the space already.
Although, here’s what Reisinger was probably missing. See, unlike the Apple TV, the Apple television set was rumored to be not just a television set with an integrated Apple TV unit, but instead a television experience not currently available on the market. An experience so socially-integrated with Apple’s other mobile devices, (such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad), it would add another proverbial dimension to the already engaging experience of watching.
A “Smart TV”, if you will.
In April, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White backed up the theory of such a device, in a report in which he claimed the set ‘could hit shelves later this year’. Citing “data points” picked up from a Chinese electronics trade show held that week, he noted how Apple may be set to go beyond the ‘Apple TV’ offering we know today, instead gearing to offer what he called a “full-blown” TV product.
Following White’s report, 9to5Mac then uncovered an Apple-filed patent at the United States Patent & Trademark Office. The patent described a “Display System Having Coherent and Incoherent Light Sources,” in other words, a Hybrid Laser Projection Display (HLPD).
In short, Apple wants to produce a cheap, lightweight alternative projector to the models currently available on the market today. More specifically, the patent describes how Apple’s projector would be free from the “speckle” issue most of these projectors suffer from.
The screen was thought to be the perfect candidate for the rumored Apple television set.
In June, a report surfaced via a “former Apple executive”. The executive claimed he had confirmed that Apple had both entered a new contract with a consumer electronics manufacturer, and that this contract related to possible building of a consumer-focused, Apple-branded television set(s).
The report noted:
According to source Apple plans to “blow Netflix and all those other guys away” by bundling Apple TV + iTunes inside physical television sets. According to the source Apple is teaming up with a major supplier (our guess would be Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (SEO:005930)), to provide the physical televisions, which will be rebranded as Apple television sets.
More recently, a report from The Wall Street Journal claimed that Apple may be “working on new technology to deliver video to televisions,” adding that a subscription-based model may also be on the way. Delving into the specifics of this report, the publication claimed then just-appointed Apple CEO, Tim Cook, intended Apple to enter two new markets involving both digital video and control of the living space.
On August 28, 2011, VentureBeat confirmed the Apple television was coming. Arriving via “multiple sources in Silicon Valley,” the publication wrote:
Apple is almost certainly working on a digital television based on its iOS operating system, according to multiple sources in Silicon Valley.
An Apple-based television makes sense in light of Apple’s continued expansion out of the computer industry into the larger consumer electronics market. But is it real?
This week, following this speculation, The Washington Post has unearthed a short excerpt from “Steve Jobs”, the official authorized biography of the late Apple CEO set to go on sale tomorrow. Most interestingly, Jobs is quoted by Isaacson as saying “[he had] finally cracked” the television set.
“He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,”
“‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.‘”
While it is unclear what Steve may have meant by the statement “I finally cracked it,” it appears pretty redundant that the late 56-year old would have been referring to the existing Apple TV, which has been on the market for a number of years and, according to Jobs last year, was largely still considered a “hobby” by Apple.
Instead, the statement could shed some insight into the possibility of an Apple-branded, socially-connected, iTunes-boasting HDTV, set for introduction in the coming years. Is this Apple’s next product Jobs spent up until his very last day trying to ensure would see the light of day? — One thing is for sure. Jobs wanted to change the way we all currently experience television – and perhaps iCloud was designed to be just the beginning of Jobs’ future vision.