Still Dreaming About An Apple TV Set? Former Exec Says It’s Not Happening

Still Dreaming About An Apple TV Set? Former Exec Says It’s Not Happening

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 Eighteen months later, as Moore’s Law dictates, the computer is obsolete but the screen is just fine.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.

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  • coolman1081

    Wow, Gassee is totally a reliable source on this. I mean it’s not like he represents the pre-Jobs Era Apple or anything.

  • BMWTwisty

    I’ve been saying this for years. Apple’s primary hurdle is negotiating deals with the content providers. Then all Apple has to do is modify the Apple TV to include a co-ax connector to input signals from cable modems to then transmit them via the Apple TV. This is already possible with Hulu Plus, Youtube, NBA, etc.

    Essentailly, you could simply have the Apple TV connect to the cable/satellite modems, then with a firmware upgrade, the Apple TV coould recognize the [scrambled] signals, say from Comcast, so that Comcast would now be an option on the Apple TV menu. Now you can play the content you’re paying for, or even hve the possibility of adding digital content via the network, to your Apple TV.

  • Gimpymw

    Gassee is on crack. Technical obsolescence does not necessarily make a device functionally obsolete. Apple’s mobile iOS devices reach functional obsolescence much quicker than their Mac devices. A TV would be more akin to a Mac than an iPhone or iPad. For example I don’t upgrade my Mac on a yearly basis. I’ve had my iMac for 6 years. The new iMac is great looking and it’s specs blow my old iMac away but I won’t upgrade until the new iMacs get gigabit Wifi. My iMac still works reasonably well even after 4 OSX upgrades over the course of 6 years and the feature I want (gigabit WiF) still isn’t included with the new machines. Compare that to my 1st gen iPad. It is approaching functional obsolescence. I’ve had it for 3 years. It tends to be quite laggy when I use it. I find that many apps crash while trying to use them. It will not run the latest version of iOS. It will be time to upgrade to a new iPad soon.

  • technochick

    I both agree and disagree with him. I don’t believe that Apple will make a television like the televisions we currently see. However I also do not believe that they will make just a set top box. The box will be the bulk of the ‘television’ as it will be the tool that provides us with content access. However, I believe, in the very near future we will see a revamp of Apple’s Cinema Display lineup. This revamp will include larger size options, better refresh rates, etc. allowing the Cinema Display to be used as a TV style monitor with the ATV box and perhaps also cable boxes, blu-ray players and so on.

  • bsoudi

    “Apple cannot revolutionize television without making its own television.” is ludicrous. You’re arguing that they need to create a 50 inch iMac. WHY? How expensive would that be? Plus, NO ONE is complaining about the quality of TV hardware. Plus, some people don’t replace their TVs for DECADES.

    It’s about the user experience. You don’t need the giant screen to revolutionize that. Why does anyone care about TiVo? Its not the peanut remote; it’s the user interface.

    I were apple, I’d make the best damn set-top box, AppleTV on steroids. Then it could be used in every household. Revolutionize content and make your bucks with iTunes rentals, or whatever business model they create.

  • stefn

    I own an Apple TV. It’s an iMac. Got rid of my TV. Got rid of my cable sub. Works great. Looks great.

    Apple might make a TV but, in fact, it will be a computer in sheep’s clothing. Like the iMac. Apple makes computers and only computers because that’s what it loves. Computers. That’s Apple’s lust and heart’s blood and mission in life. It also knows people have learned rightfully to hate computers. So it disguises computers as phones and walkmans and maybe TVs.

    Maybe. Apple’s learned it is not enough to disguise the computer or even to make it damn pretty: Apple knows it also needs a firehose of highly appealing content. Content that’s relatively cheap and relatively exclusive. No buck a tune, no iPod. No buck an app, no iPhone. And no buck a show, no iTube.

  • Martin Dobson

    What everyone keeps overlooking is that a TV is basically a computer monitor just with built in tuners and different arrays of video inputs.

    Apple already makes computer monitors, high end ones, like the projected Apple iTV… the Thunderbolt/Cinema Display…. it’s a 27″ Monitor (Read as: 27″ TV) with a built in iSight/Facetime camera… FOR $1,000. That’s only for 27″… I’d hate to see what a 42″, 46″, 50″, 55″ or 60″ would cost.

    Lose the dream of a TV set made by Apple and it’s now time to realize that the Apple TV (hockey puck box) is going to be the solution. It’s all about the interface.

    As it is right now, I have cancelled my cable/satellite, barely use my PS3/360 and we use the AppleTV with iTunes Media Server running from my Mac Mini and the built in content apps like Netflix. No commercials. Rewind, Pause, Play, etc. NBA, MLB and NHL all have onDemand style apps built in to the AppleTV… what more do you want? (I’d like for Facetime/Skype possibilities, that’s a camera peripheral and software updates away)

  • sirobin171

    I think its coming. Its going to be very very cool and I am going to buy it. The difference between what we have now in Apple TV and what this will be is great. There will be a front facing camera, blue tooth for a keyboard, Siri will be installed, and customized for TV, changing channels, turning things on and off, opening apps like Skype, and doing facetime. There is so much more that can and will be imagined. This is one guy that is down on Apple because he is out of the loop. It would really surprise me if Apple did not do this, I expect it in a way. The first reason I will buy it is that it will be the highest quality television I will have ever bought. When I buy Apple I know its not crap, thats why I will buy it first and foremost.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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