Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Will Apple Sell Its Own HDTV in 2-4 Years? Absolutely!

Matt Burns of TechCrunch recently presented his case as to why he concludes there is no way that Apple will release an "all-in-one" (i.e., non set-top box) Apple TV in the next 4 years. And, in so doing, he makes some very good points.

BUT, I wholeheartedly disagree -- and I'm no mere Apple fanboy (although I certainly have a plethora of Apple products, I frequently challenge and disagree with Apple). In my view, a real Apple HDTV -- what I call an "iTV" -- is not only likely, it is an absolutely certainty.

Why? Because Apple's raison d'etre is to shake-up existing paradigms by elegantly marrying its hardware with a seamless software/user experience -- and the living room is the next great frontier. It already has done it on the desktop (with the MacBook); it already has done it in the mobile world (with the iPhone, iPod and iPad). So, Apple's invasion of the living room is next -- the market opportunity is simply too massive to be ignored. Jobs himself has said that set-top box solutions are essentially DOA (and its own set-top box forays a mere "hobby") -- consumers want the simplicity of one unified elegant and easy-to-use flatscreen.

Burns of TechCrunch primarily argues that the living room is different -- that margins already are paper thin amongst the giant consumer electronics companies who provide us with our flat screen HDTVs. In other words, he contends that Apple has no financial incentive to distribute its own HDTV.

But, here's what he misses -- the same argument absolutely can be made in the desktop computer space. For all the other PC guys -- Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer -- margins are paper thin. All of these compete significantly, if not primarily, on price. Only one company stands apart -- that's right, you guessed it ... Apple with its MacBooks. Apple uniquely can charge premium prices with healthy margins. Why? Because a significant number of consumers will pay that premium price for the elegant and seamless user experience that they believe only Apple can offer. Heck (heck?), a significant number of consumers will pay that premium price simply because it is an Apple HDTV -- forget the rest. Virtually everyone I know -- including my wife -- would buy an Apple "all-in-one" HDTV in a minute simply because of their past experiences with other Apple products. In other words, they are smitten with everything Apple. This fact is not lost on the astute Mr. Jobs.

So, the same thing will happen in the living room. The market opportunity for Apple to enter our living rooms as part of its "real job" (non hobby) -- yes, pun intended -- is simply too massive. It is inevitable that lines will form around Apple stores days before it sells its first line of real all-in-one HDTVs -- and these Apple faithful will be rabid. And, this certainly will happen in the next 4 years.

I guarantee it. And, that's why I recently purchased Apple stock. Yes, the company's shares are at its all-time highs. But, just wait until Jobs sits next to you on your living room couch.