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Summary:

Remember Gene Munster? He’s Piper Jaffray’s Senior Analyst, and has been talking about tablets for most of this year. Well, now he’s got a new string to his bow and is talking about an Apple TV. Not ‘Apple TV’. An Apple TV. An actual, hardware, big-screen […]

apple-tv2Remember Gene Munster? He’s Piper Jaffray’s Senior Analyst, and has been talking about tablets for most of this year. Well, now he’s got a new string to his bow and is talking about an Apple TV. Not ‘Apple TV’. An Apple TV. An actual, hardware, big-screen television.

In an article from Philip Elmer-DeWitt over on Fortune’s Apple 2.0 blog, Munster is quoted thusly;

“TV hardware is a challenging business if you don’t change the rules of the game, but we see potential for Apple to offer best-in-class software and hardware and charge a premium.”

“The argument that Apple will not enter the television market because prices have declined by ~70% in the past three years is a similar argument used to conclude Apple would not enter the cell phone market, given phones had seen similar price declines. The bottom line, 10 million HDTV’s sold in the US a year is a real market, and if history repeats itself, Apple will find a way to compete in a commoditized market with a premium priced product.”

It would be unforgivable for a Senior Analyst not to provide compelling supporting evidence for his predictions, so, accordingly, Munster mentions patents covering digital video recording and an agreement worth $500 million Apple made with LG to provide them with LCD screens.

Oh – and if that’s not enough to convince the most hardened skeptics among you, Munster throws-in a quote from Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook from last July, when he stated the company will continue to invest in Apple TV because “we fundamentally believe there is something there for us in the future”.

And there’s nothing more satisfying than a product roadmap, right? So here’s the short version;

  1. A new Apple TV box “within the next few months” with TV-in and DVR capabilities
  2. An iTunes TV Pass within the next twelve months, costing $30-$40 per month – a service Munster thinks can “effectively replace a consumer’s monthly cable bill”.
  3. Finally, an Apple television set within the next two years.

Says Munster:

“Such a device would command a premium among a competitive field of budget TVs; we believe Apple could differentiate itself with software that makes home entertainment simple and solves a pain point for consumers (complicated TV and component systems).”

I don’t know about you, but doesn’t an actual television set seem a little… oh I don’t know… over the top? Let’s keep our feet firmly on solid ground and invoke Occam’s Razor; the precept that suggests, all things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually right.

What’s more likely? Apple’s deal with LG is to supply the manufacture of Apple-branded television sets for which there is no known physical evidence of any kind… OR it’s for the manufacture of laptop and desktop computer LCD displays, products for which an active imagination isn’t necessary because evidence is abundant. You decide.

What’s more likely? Tim Cook’s statement, “…something there for us in the future” is, for a traditionally über-secretive company, an uncharacteristically vocal “nudge-nudge wink-wink” from one of its top executives… OR it’s a statement designed to reassure shareholders Apple’s little hobby hasn’t so-far proven to be an enormous waste of money and, yes, will see more aggressive development and sales success in the future? Again… I leave it to you.

I know analysts are in the business of making predictions, but the latest from Munster seems, to me, to be wishful-thinking at best, or else sheer unbridled fiction and link-baiting.

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  1. My wishful thinking is the app store will extend to Apple TV, so it can interface with more web content and perhaps work for gaming in conjunction with iphones and ipod touch’s. Why would apple make a simple TV, they already sell the cinema displays a mini mac or apple TV and I have everything I need. How about just a bigger imac for the living room, or Microsofts big ass table.

  2. Item one and possibly item two of that “roadmap” interest me greatly, and if they came to fruition might be just the thing to tip the scales and get me to buy an Apple TV. I still don’t have an HDTV, but only because I feel that they’re still a bit pricey, even after numerous price drops, so I don’t know if I’d be interested in an actual Apple TV competing in the “premium” market unless it did something really spectacular.

  3. Todd Bluewater Friday, August 21, 2009

    I’ve already done it… : )

  4. Michael Aguiar Friday, August 21, 2009

    I love my Apple TV box, some love from Apple would be awesome. If they plan to replace my cable bill, they need to make the new Apple TV box with HD, along with the DVR!

    I’ll be buying the Apple TV set as well if it has similar quality as other Apple products. They already took over my office, it’s time to take control of my living room!

  5. If Apple TV got DVR capabilities, increased web content and access to the App Store, I would be thrilled. I already have an HD flat panel TV, and I don’t need to buy one with an Apple logo instead of an LG one. I have a feeling most consumers are in this situation, and I could almost guarantee Apple knows this.

  6. Most of the people I know (OK, all of them) get their internet connection through their cable provider, at a price that is discounted because they subscribe to their cable TV at the same time. So, how does one get a decent speed internet connection once you give your cable provider the boot? (DSL isn’t an option for most people I know as they live too far away from phone company switch and I’ve never met anyone who had access to a fiber optic hookup.)

    1. Good point, and yet another reason why I suspect Mr Munster is jumping the gun, grasing at straws… or just trying to get attention. ;-)

    2. Do a little math. Comcast provides me with 12-16mbps download, 1.5-3mbps upload and, yes, they discount it by boosting their own freight when they need to borrow money by listing me as a subscriber. They hooked-up my set to the minimum SD service and I never use it.

      Why boot your cable provider?

      I only use the Broadband. I get my TV as I have since 1994 via DirecTV. As do 20 million others.

      The next best laugh is people who feel they need another DVR – because if you’re subscribing to TV via cable or sat – and you comprehend time-shifting – you don’t need another DVR. You already have one.

      What can you get OTA? 20 channels, 40 channels in a big enough city. I subscribe to over 250 channels. Watched Manchester United wallop plucky little Wigan Athletic this morning on one of my 6 ESPN channels. After watching qualifying for the Euro F1 race in Valencia. None in real time because today is grocery shopping morning in town.

      I’m looking forward to a boost in my AppleTV – or the next-gen – to aid in accessing more of the Web. We watch a number of hours of IPTV only accessible from the Web. Mostly through iTunes. More of the Web directly to the AppleTV is nice – but not required.

  7. Three words: Monitors, monitors, and monitors.

    Hardly anybody is or has been talking about Apple monitors, what with the past iPhone 3GS and the current tablet speculation. If you look at the Apple store, there’s the 24″ LCD Cinema HD Display and the old aluminum 30″ TFT Cinema HD Display, and nothing else; the 20″ and 23″ displays are history.

    Seems to me some new Apple displays are in order and overdue, not a television set.

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