Thursday, September 02, 2010

"iTV" - The Headline That Wasn't There - Here's Why

The single most important headline from yesterday's Jobs-ian Apple event was no headline at all -- it was the headline that wasn't there -- i.e., "iTV."

Everyone and his/her brother/sister in the tech world predicted that Apple's re-tooled Apple TV set-top box would be re-christenend "iTV."

Only it wasn't. And, here's why.

"Apple TV" as we know it today (even as re-tooled yesterday) is still a "hobby" (the words Jobs used to describe his set-top box previously). The main event absolutely will be an "iTV", but not anything like we know it today. "iTV" will be Jobs' full living room vision ... finally realized.

Mark my words -- Apple will introduce an all-in-one flat screen TV (i.e., no set-top box needed) into the marketplace by Christmas 2012 at the latest (hey, let's be bold -- Apple will launch iTV by Christmas 2011). And, Jobs will christen THAT device "iTV." Think of it as a much larger version of the iPad on your living room's wall. At that point, Jobs' evolution of Apple's ever-expanding vision will be complete -- first, the small screen version (iPhone, iTouch); then, the mid-size version (iPad -- where video is the "killer app"); and finally, the flat screen version (iTV).

So, Jobs and friends could not re-name its streamlined new set-top box "iTV" (despite expectations to the contrary), precisely because they needed to reserve the "iTV" moniker for their ultimate grander realization of the living room dream! The re-tooled Apple TV simply will bridge the gap until Jobs is ready to make his inevitable leap!

I have always believed that Apple will make this inevitable all-in-one move into the living room beyond its current self-proclaimed Apple TV "hobby" (and have blogged about it several times -- click here to read more about the reasons why). The living room opportunity is simply too massive -- Jobs wants to be sitting next to you on your living room couch and own that final frontier. And, because it is an Apple flat screen -- captained by the almighty Jobs -- people will be clamoring for it. And, they will be willing to pay top dollar and with significantly higher margins for Apple than for other flat screens.

For all of these reasons, I scratched my head several times before Jobs' stage show yesterday wondering why -- if expectations rang true -- he would re-brand his re-tooled set-top box "iTV" if his ultimate plan was to release a set-top box-less unified flat screen. That never made sense to me. It would be illogical and ill-advised to slap that set-top box-laden "iTV" name onto a completely different product vision.

Well, guess what -- he didn't. And, that's why he didn't. Because "iTV" will see the light of day on another day ... and on another stage ...

As they say, "stay tuned" and start lining up now to buy your new iTV in Xmas 2011.