We thought we’d put this Apple television business to rest as a pipe-dream, but then Steve Jobs’s biography came out, where he claimed he had finally “cracked” the TV problem. Now the rumor mill has started itself up again with renewed vigor, and the latest report from Nick Bilton over at The New York Times: his sources tell him that Jobs thought that the “industry was totally broken” a real Apple-branded television set “isn’t a matter of if, but when,” a “guaranteed product.”
Bilton explains the problems Apple is trying to overcome with television sets:
Apple engineers and designers, spurred by Mr. Jobs, have been struggling for years to find a new interface for the television. One of the biggest hurdles, according to people with knowledge of the project, has been replacing the television set’s annoying best friend: the awkward and confusing remote control. Apple would give people a way to choose the content on their television that is as easy as choosing the content on their iPod, iPhone or iPad…
It’s the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk: “Put on the last episode of Gossip Girl.” “Play the local news headlines.” “Play some Coldplay music videos.” Siri does the rest.
Okay, that’s interesting, as is Bilton’s claim that Apple is close enough to releasing an iTV as soon as 2013.
But here’s the problem: televisions are big and expensive, and people keep their television sets for years, even decades. How is Apple going to get people to upgrade their TV every year or two, especially since everyone already has a TV? Furthermore, why build a huge television set and go through all of the logistical headaches of selling it when a set-top box can do the same thing Apple wants to do and be sold at a price point that makes it a no-brainer for all consumers, using Apple’s existing infrastructure?
No doubt Apple will prove me wrong, but the iTV rumors still don’t add up for me. Apple finally getting serious about the Apple TV seems much more likely.