We’re not the only ones that have been skeptical about Apple’s rumored television set. Despite words from Tim Cook about Apple’s intrigue over the television, and Gene Munster’s continued conviction that an Apple Television is in fact on the way, former Apple VP Jean-Louis Gassée (from 1981-1990) seems to think that the Apple Television is a fantasy at this point.
In his Monday Note, Gassée states:
“To realize the dream, as discussed previously, you need to put a computer — something like an Apple TV module — inside the set. Eighteen months later, as Moore’s Law dictates, the computer is obsolete but the screen is just fine. No problem, you’ll say, just make the computer module removable, easily replaced by a new one; more revenue for Apple…and you’re right back to today’s separate box arrangement. And you can spread said box to all HDTVs, not just the hypothetical Apple-brand set.”
His entire article is well worth a read, and we suggest taking a moment and giving it a once over and actually thinking about what he’s saying. We’ve been saying the same thing. The Apple TV in its current state is almost a perfect solution for consumers. People keep televisions a lot longer than they do phones. I don’t see that changing any time soon. If Apple simply included an input for cable into their Apple TV, or actually pulled a rabbit out of its hat and got all the major networks to provide apps for their channels, there’s very little reason why Apple would need to even create a television. They would be able to cash in on those sales the same way they do with music, apps, and books.
The content-consumption model of television is broken. I think that’s what Tim Cook was talking about when he told NBC’s Brian Williams, “When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years.” It’s the content consumption that feels, and is, obviously broken. The physical hardware on the other hand isn’t exactly something people are excited about changing. Sure, there’s a small market of people, who just like me, would prefer the aesthetic of an Apple branded television, but that’s also why I’m in the minority and own a cinema display for my Mac Pro. It’s a small market right now.
I’m with Gassée on this one. Apple may be playing around with the idea of a full television, they may even be puttering around with designs, but until they figure out how to entirely flip the content-consumption and network model on its head, the AppleTV is the closest thing we’re going to get to a full-on television experience from Apple.