Every major news outlet is now sizing up the possibility of the upcoming release of an Apple TV. About just as many people have predicted that there will be an Apple TV as have predicted there will not be an Apple TV. Unless something changes, though, all indications are generally pointing to the fact that there will be an Apple TV released in 2013.
So let's look at what we can and what we should expect from this television set. But first, let me reiterate my position, which has remained consistent for close to five years. Apple needs a TV offering for three reasons: To add something new to its product line-up; to sell in its Apple Stores, which are getting larger and need more products; and finally, to take advantage of the fact that the company can get a premium for a TV set where nobody else can.
In fact, this last assertion seems to be established by research, which suggests that Apple can get 20 per cent more for the exact same product when it is branded.
What I have not been so jacked up about is the pundits' insistence that Apple must do all sorts of content deals to make a go of this TV. Why? I understand that people like to imagine Apple pulling a stunt for video content the way it did for music with iTunes, but the situation is totally different. The music business was recreating itself and had to do something to avoid extinction. The situation regarding TV and movies is nothing like that.
Apple can get away with merely incorporating the likes of Roku and Netflix, and some Media Centre qualities in some useful way. Perhaps Apple can just buy Netflix and use that for its content deal.
So what can we expect to see when the Apple TV comes out? What will make it different? Here entertainment comes in the form of speculation.
There is talk that Apple is looking beyond Corning's Gorilla Glass towards the newer Willow Glass, which is paper thin and flexes. This, combined with OLED technology, would make for the first genuine large screen "hang-on-the-wall TV."
Apple would love to show off a huge screen that weighs less than 20 pounds and can hang on the wall. The sets today are, relatively speaking, huge dinosaurs that eventually have to be swapped out for something less cumbersome. Whether Apple can manage the OLED part of the equation remains to be seen, but the set can still be lightweight and “hangable.”
Now, if you are going to hang your TV on the wall, are you going to have unsightly cables running up and down the wall? No, maybe just one lone power plug. Using either some high speed video streaming wireless lash-up or power cord networking, the set will be a receiver all the way for streaming content from a centralised box external to the TV. This would lighten the product even more.
This aspect has not been addressed by anyone, but Apple’s emphasis on aesthetics would demand some sort of look that does not include crummy cables galore.
Let's face it: Apple is not going to bring out a more expensive yet ho-hum flat panel TV to stand alongside the Samsung and Panasonic units at the supermarkets and electronics stores. The forever-promised hang-on-the wall TV is where it has got to go. Everyone else will follow Apple's lead after that.
We'll find out more as 2013 progresses.