Still fantasizing about replacing your aging plasma with a new Apple television? According to recent speculation, the Cupertino company is going to announce the revolutionary new set any day now. But according to former Apple executive and current Apple watcher Jean-Louis Gassee, we’re kidding ourselves.
Gassee says that the rumors surrounding the device are nothing but an “enduring fantasy,” and that the only thing Apple will release that’s close to a television is a new Apple TV set-top box.
Gassee explains his reasoning in this week’s Monday Note column: “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 Eighteen months later, as Moore’s Law dictates, the computer is obsolete but the screen is just fine.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.”
Admittedly, Gassee makes a very good point. Apple currently refreshes its most popular devices around once every 12 months, but that’s not feasible when it comes to televisions. They cost significantly more than a new iPhone, and customers are going to want to upgrade to a new model just one year after splashing out on its predecessor.
But I’m not sure the computer-inside-a-set “module” that Gassee speaks of will need refreshing all that often. If Apple wanted to, it could ensure the set’s software will last a great deal longer than three years before it needs faster processors and better graphics. The company surely wouldn’t expect us to spend several thousand every few years on a new set.
And then, of course, there’s AirPlay, which could allow our Apple set to play apps and games, and stream movies and TV shows, using the processing power of our Macs and iOS devices.
Building its own set is the only way Apple can truly make its mark on our living rooms. While the Apple TV might be great for those of us who use it, it’s nowhere near a perfect product, and it only has a limited number of uses. Apple cannot revolutionize television without making its own television.
If you ask me, there’s just too much smoke for there not to be a fire in this particular case. We still believe in the Apple TV set.