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Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I have always thought that Apple will absolutely get into the REAL TV business -- i.e., sell its own beautiful Apple-branded large flat panel TVs for the living room. It isn't a question of "if" -- it is a question of "when."
Well, that "when" is reported to be as early as this fall, according to blog DailyTech (which quotes an anonymous "former executive"). And, the blog essentially guesses that Samsung may have a significant role in Apple's overall initiative.
Although TechCrunch and several others doubt the veracity of this report, at its core, this timing is plausible:
(1) Apple's next great frontier is the living room -- it has now conquered all other smaller-sized sized screens, and the living room is simply too irresistibly massive of an opportunity;
(2) Apple's living room efforts so far have been mere "hobbies" -- the current Apple TV "box"; the hobby is taught Apple many lessons, and it is now time for it to do the real thing. My guess is that Apple will ultimately name its new TV "iTV" to differentiated it from the current Apple TV;
(3) Apple's strategy, as always, will be to create not only a beautiful hardware product, but also to seamlessly marry that hardware with simple, clean and easy-to-use software and services; that means Apple must be in the Netflix/Hulu game;
(4) Apple cannot allow Netflix and Hulu to entrench itself too much further in the minds of consumers if it wants to succeed in an iTunes-like way on the TV screen; timing matters here, and Apple needs to be a full-blown Netflix-ian service provider to follow its tried and true playbook (some believe Apple may buy Hulu to make this happen);
(5) Hmmm, Apple's new massive multi-billion dollar data service is scheduled to open later this year;
(6) while Jobs' product announcements earlier this month were interesting, they didn't include bombshells like they generally do; perhaps he was saving his powder of the ultimate bombshell later this year?
A couple more things, working with Samsung is not unprecedented at all for Apple. Samsung already is a major component supplier for Apple products. But, make no mistake, Samsung would not be the ultimate manufacturer. Apple would be too wary for that to happen -- and too much is at stake for both. Apple needs more control than that.
And, Apple not only will seamlessly integrate a Netflixian-type service to offer premium movie and TV content when it does launch iTV, it also will offer a Cloud-based personal locker and sharing service for UGC video content. I am not talking YouTube-like sharing. I am talking about your viewing and sharing your precious HD video memories recorded with your iPhone.
Like I said, I wouldn't be surprised if this overall rumor is true. Apple's entrance into your living room is inevitable. And, margins ultimately will not be a problem. Look at the desktop/laptop business? Apple is notorious for charging significantly more than all of its competitors -- and consumers flock for that Apple experience. How many of your friends will overpay?
There's your answer.