Apple Could Allow Users To Upgrade The Rumored iTV Every Year Using A-Series Modules [CES 2012]


Samsung's usually accused of copying Apple, but their next-gen Smart TVs can be upgraded over time with faster processors and graphics, a strategy Apple might also employ.

LAS VEGAS, CES 2012 – Like many TV makers at CES, Apple’s rumored entry into the HDTV market was the specter in the room at Samsung’s Monday afternoon press conference. However, unlike other makers who are flailing around blindly trying to add new bullet points to their spec sheets in the face of Apple entering the industry, Samsung’s next-gen Smart TV has a plan… and it’s just compelling enough that you wonder if Samsung has been tipped off on just what the iTV will entail, and is preparing in kind.

Here’s the primary dilemma of Apple entering the HDTV market. Apple’s whole business strategy essentially rests in selling customers a newer, shinier, better version of a device every two-three years. How do you apply that model to televisions, though? They are huge, expensive devices that most households don’t upgrade more than once a decade. So how do you get families to shell out a couple grand on a new 50-inch TV every couple of years?

Samsung’s got a compelling answer: you can’t. People don’t buy televisions that way. But what if, instead of selling people a brand new TV every two-three years, you make your money by selling them modular upgrades on a yearly basis, and a major new set only every five-ten years.

This is what Samsung is intending on doing with their so-called Smart Evolution initiative. Think of it as an expansion slot for your TV. Every year, you can give Samsung a couple hundred bucks, open a door on the back of your day, and slap a new module in that will give it improved video and processing power.

Samsung claims they are uniquely positioned to offer modular updates to their line of Smart TVs because they are the one TV maker who makes their own systems-on-chip, or SoCs. And that’s certainly true… for now. But if Apple gets in the game, they’re going to have the same advantage.

So imagine this. You spend $2,000 on an Apple iTV with a top-of-the-line A6 processor, but when Apple announces the iTV 2, it’s not an upgrade to the display: it’s an affordable upgrade to the iTV A6 module that gives any iTV out there the same core processing and video power as the latest model.

I think Samsung may just have nailed it on the nose. It’s not enough for Apple to just release a TV that cracks the control problem. Everyone at CES is showing off TVs with gesture control, voice control, internet connectivity and apps. No, what Apple has to figure out is a way to make people waiting in lines around the block for the next iTV every year. Maybe it’s as easy as again embracing a concept Apple has long since abandoned with their PCs and laptops: the self-upgradeable television.

  • mrBravo

    This makes sense, though assuming that Samsung got tipped off is just going on a limb.

    The whole “I finally cracked it” could NOT have been about Siri, or the remote or the interface. It was about the go to market strategy and this sounds like a solution to one of those go to market problems.

    Another go to market problem?
    Cable co. own the pipes

  • Michael Von Verrenkamp

    Can I just say that it is incredible just how thin the border on these modern TVs are looking at that picture. We are just a few years away from have a TV with no border, the ultimate evolution of the product.

    A modular based system would be a nice concept but I would imagine it being difficult to impliment just in terms of ease of use. It’s not a bad idea just a tough one.

  • Dae Myung

    Great idea but how about they start updating their phones to Ice Cream.

  • ADimensionOfMind

    So many nice TVs at CES, really am going to have to pick a decent bank to rob to pick some up. Though finding a bank with money in it may be hard this year! : )

  • gareth edwards

    Part of the puzzle deffo.  TV’s being a closed box have always been at the mercy of the march of technology. Factor in the (perceived) obsolescence by the consumer that their new TV is old hat because something else has come along AND the high price of new kit and the cutting edge TV has always been a hard sell. People wait till prices have taken a dive (How many years did 1080 take to really get into the global mainstream?) and technology has matured through early adopters. This is a sensible first step in helping consumers follow tech trends without having to sell a kidney to do it.  Be interesting to see how important this is though/

  • MacHead84

    Apple letting you open your TV???? Yeah right. Apple TVs wont have warrantys if thats the case

  • Wane Creasey

    you can open a mac cant you?

  • Aj Tk427

    Um you just described my ATV2

  • darthrez

    you can refer to cable companies as ISP’s at that point though.

  • techgeek01

    not without killing the warranty. 

  • ddevito

    This is exactly what I have been talking about. Apple will never get consumers to buy a new TV every couple of years. TVs are appliances.

    Apple is going to have to copy Samsung. More lawsuits coming. Ugh.

  • MacHead84

    You “can” open anything….that doesnt mean Apple wants you to be. Theres a reason they dont want people screwing around inside their products, thats because people break things and apple doesnt want to have to fix their mistakes

  • ddevito

    My iMac’s locked down pretty tight. So no you can’t.

  • ddevito

    Join in on the conversation or leave. I make a valid point. Apple makes great devices but have yet to make an appliance. They’re different in the eyes of consumers.

  • Rob Williams

    Televisions aren’t appliances last I checked.  They are more related to monitors than a washing machine.  With all they do today, they are much closer to the computer side of home hardware with smart tv.

    What you seem to fail to understand in any of your posts on this site is that Apple doesn’t play by the rules of normal retail.  Apple makes a product that generates its own hype without a slew of advertising in advance.  Apple’s fanboys do the free advertising for them.  If Apple decided to make a smart shower head, it would be the best selling shower head in the world because it would look cool, and people would want to have one.

    If/when Apple makes a TV, it will be by their own terms and profit margin, and it will sell.  Period.  There are no shortage of Mac users who upgrade their laptops every upgrade cycle, whether it be an Air or MBP.  Millions of iPhone users upgrade every year to the new device.  There’s nothing saying that Apple will upgrade their own entry into the television market annually either.  Mac Pro’s are the best example of Apple making a solid product and not having the need to upgrade it for 2 years+.

    Consumers have shown in the last few years that they do look at products differently and televisions and computers are generally separate.  But then they look at Apple products in their own category.  Where other companies are grouped together in their product slots, Apple’s products are solely Apple’s.  It’s “Do I want to buy a new laptop or a macbook?”

  • Will Reed

    If it is as easy as installing RAM in an iMac or MacBook than this is genius.  I don’t think the warranty gets killed if you install your own ram.  Plus, they aren’t always on the money with the warranty stuff.  I once had a MacBook with a broken LCD, replaced it myself, brought it in because of hard drive problems, didn’t get diagnosed as a new screen and bam, new Mac Book for free.

  • prof_peabody

    Not to be negative, but this has been tried before several times by TV manufacturers and it’s never worked that well.  Motorola tried it first in 1968.  

  • prof_peabody

    You are making artificial (and poorly defined) distinctions here (appliance/device). Also, this is not a new idea.  Samsung or Apple or both, could do this and it wouldn’t be “copying” or any kind of violation at all.  

  • prof_peabody

    grab any iMac screen tightly with your fingernails and pull towards you and *boom,* it’s open.  simple. 

  • Kenneth W Collins

    John Brownlee: You must not have been following Apple for long. 

    There is a British company named iTV ( ). When Steve Jobs introduced the Apple TV, he called it “iTV” and made it very, very clear that it was only an internal code name and the final name would be different. Apple marketed it later under the name Apple TV.

    Even though Apple never used the name iTV as anything more than an internal code name, the real iTV filed a preemptive lawsuit to protect the trademark. Since iTV has already shown its willingness to defend its trademark, and Apple has already demonstrated that it won’t sell a product named iTV, it’s safe to say that there will never, ever, ever be an Apple product named iTV. 

    If you haven’t been paying attention closely enough to know that, how valuable are your prognostications here?

  • Andy Porteous

    Ok all the rumours of the iTV seem a bit silly, perhaps Apple will release a flagship iTV set but im sure that they realise everybody already has a huge TV in their loungrooms and if they want to sell Content then thier best bet is an upgraded apple TV that handles live TV / Cable and Digital content and Apps. That way you can pick one up and add it to your exsisting dumb display. 

    Once again if they are going to make money from Content then this makes more sense… perhaps the modular idea yes… but there will be a standalone box which can be upgraded every few years… 

  • Brandon Dillon

    Why would you have to open it? Why wouldn’t it be a module on the back that you can just pop off?

  • Dilbert A

    Yes, you can.