Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Apple's All-in-One iTV is Coming -- Forget Jobs' AppleTV Hobby, Its iTV Will Be Transformative

The iTV -- Apple's "all in one" flat screen TV -- simple plug-and-play, with a pristine flat panel, seamless integration of software with hardware, and no set-top box -- is coming. Make no mistake, it's coming. And, it likely is coming sooner than we think, precisely because Google has now laid down the gauntlet with its recently announced Google TV initiative.

Just like Apple transformed your personal music experience with the iPod. Just like Apple transformed your mobile phone experience with the iPhone. And, just like Apple is transforming your personal computer experience right now with the iPad, Apple's next great frontier undoubtedly is the living room. And, if Apple succeeds here -- which it most assuredly will in my view -- Apple's current #1 market cap in the tech sector is only Act I. I first made this prediction -- which I deem to be inevitable -- only last week. But, Steve Jobs' own words at Walt Mossberg's annual D Conference back it up.

Oh sure, Apple already has experimented in your living room with its Apple TV "box." But, Steve Jobs once again called Apple TV a mere "hobby." He also pointedly said that the "breakthrough" product will not include any form of additional set-top box of any kind. In his words from the D Conference:

“The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everyone a set-top box, and that pretty much undermines innovation in the sector. Ask TiVo, ask Roku, ask Google in a few months. The only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it. But right now, there’s no way to do that….The TV is going to lose until there’s a viable go-to-market strategy. That’s the fundamental problem with the industry. It’s not a problem with the technology, it’s a problem with the go-to-market strategy….I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out, but that’s why we say Apple TV is a hobby.”

Sound familiar? Hmm, first he disses Google and Google TV for lack of innovation. Then, he disses his own current AppleTV as being a mere "hobby." Then, he says that the "right" Television experience has no separate box of any kind and the solution is NOT a technology problem. And, then he says "I'm sure smarter people than us will figure this out ...." And, who are these smarter people?

In the mind of Jobs, it certainly ain't Google. It could be only one company -- his company -- Apple of course! It's the perfect set up!

That's because Apple is THE master of the user experience. Making the hard easy. And making the hardware cool and fun.

My guess is that the iTV is coming sooner than anyone thinks. Could it be announced as soon as June 7 at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (Steve Jobs has promised some very big announcement on that date)? That's pretty fast -- so close to its recent iPad announcements and introduction into the marketplace. But, don't be overly surprised if Jobs nonetheless goes there and announces availability for this coming holiday season. And, if not then, my bet is that the iTV would launch in 2011 at the latest.

Why else would Jobs be dissing Google TV already? Why has Apple spent so much time in the past several months breaking away every remaining remnant of its relationship with Google (in its latest move, Apple just ousted Google search in favor of Microsoft Bing!).

And, why else would Sony and other be lining up behind Google TV? Sony already lost the personal music battle when its walk-man dominance was killed in one year by Apple's iPod. To date, Sony has never recovered. And, Sony's last bastion is the living room, where it cannot afford to lose again to Apple.

But, it will. When Apple introduces its inevitable iTV experience, all bets are off in the current television marketplace. The faithful will flock to Apple -- and others will follow this flock.

Apple's disruption to and dominance in the living room will be its second act. Even with Apple stock soaring already, it still may be a good time to buy ....

The iTV, it's coming ...