Rumours of a full-fledged Apple TV has been doing the rounds for a number of years, fuelled mainly by managing director and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray – Gene Munster. However, it was not until an excerpt from Steve Jobs Biography by Walt Isaacson was published by many news outlets including the The Washington Post that the world stood up and took note.
Here is what The Washington Post had to say:[quote] He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,” Isaacson wrote.
Isaacson continued: “‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.[/quote]
Of course, the above quote, set the technology world alight, with bloggers and other traditional news sites alike giving their opinions on what such an integrated TV may look like. Some individuals, however, remain skeptical that Apple would launch such a product given the low margins in the TV industry.
I believe Steve Jobs’s ultimate goal was to reinvent the User Interface of TV as we know it. Apple has already shown that they are capable of doing this by reinventing the User Interface of the mobile phones with the iPhone and tablet computers with the iPad.
There have been lots of discussions that the lack of content is holding back the launch of the iTV. While this is the case to some extent, I believe Apple is more than willing to work with the cable networks and internet providers to deliver a brilliant user experience powered by a simple user interface.
Gene Munster – managing director and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray and one of Apple’s biggest advocate, also believes that content is not necessarily the stumbling block for Apple’s iTV.
“The content side is not a critical part in our opinion that seems to be where a lot of the Street is focused on,” Munster stated. “We think the content and the hope of unbundle channel is but we do think that just fixing the basic user interface is going to enough for Apple to be – have a successful television.”
US Patent No. US 562,1456, filed for on June 22, 1993 and granted to Apple on April, 15 1997 might go some way in answering this question. It’s also interesting to note that Apple has been thinking about solving the TV user interface problem for some time now.
Here is the Abstract of patent US 562,1456:
Method and Apparatus For Audio-Visual Interface for the Display of multiple program categories
Method and Apparatus For Audio-Visual Interface for the Display of multiple program categories[quote] An interactive audio-visual (A/V) transceiver is advantageously coupled to a television and/or telephone (T/T) cable, a TV, a video recorder (VCR), and other A/V devices. The A/V transceiver switches data between a program/service provider and the connected A/V devices. In one embodiment, the transceiver includes three primary modules, a main module including a CPU, a system bus, system memory, an infra-red (IR) control unit, an audio-visual bus, an A/V decoder, an A/V processor, and an A/V encoder, an A/V connect module including a number of tuner/demodulators and a switch, and an optional CD ROM module. The A/V transceiver hardware is complemented with an operating system and software program which supports the functions provided in the A/V user interface. Additionally, a remote control device is provided to communicate with the A/V transceiver to interactively manage selection of program and service sources, selection program and service offerings from any selected source, viewing of selected program offerings, and interaction with selected service offerings. The remote control device is advantageously provided with a basic A/V control button group, an interactive control button group, an auxiliary control button group and a numeric key pad to facilitate control of the transceiver. The interactive control button group includes an info button, a list button, a categories button, a pix button, a mark button, a jump button, and a pointing device consisting of up, down, left, and right arrow buttons, and a center select button.[/quote]
Apple is on the verge of destroying the TV industry – by disrupting the computer industry again. This is because at its very core, Apple is a PC company. Making computers is what they do best.