Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference has never been a venue for truly big hardware surprises. In recent years, it has become the launch pad for iOS updates and Mac computer refreshes, and not much else. But given Tim Cook's late May musings about Apple's stake in TV-related technology--he told a D11 Conference audience there's "an intense interest" in this area--one could have easily harbored hopes that Apple would stun Monday's WWDC audience with a big-screen Apple TV.
Apple never dropped that bomb, but the idea of a full-fledged Apple television isn't far-fetched. In fact, it's very likely that in a small conference room in a nondescript building in an out-of-the-way office park somewhere in Silicon Valley, a 60-inch TV stands on a table. For the purpose of this article we'll call it an "iTV," and it's so thin you can barely see it from the side. The front of the TV is almost completely dominated by screen real estate, with just a thin stripe of precision-cut brushed metal skirting the edges.
That's speculation of course, but informed speculation. It's an open secret that Apple has been prototyping an iTV for quite some time, probably resulting in something like the device described above. In fact, a consumer electronics company of Apple's size and industry footprint would be strategically negligent if it didn't have a TV concept humming away in some back room. Apple should be prototyping big-screen TVs and sundry other forward-thinking gadgets--because this is what innovators do.
So, while Apple's elusive entry into the TV hardware market didn't appear at WWDC, it's still very much on the table, and analysts we've contacted believe Apple will eventually get in the TV hardware business. That's right: Apple will enter a product segment that's notorious for low margins and long replacement cycles. It will ignore all practical arguments and launch a full-fledged iTV.
Jeremy Allaire, for one, is now a believer. He's the CEO of the online video publishing platform Brightcove, and an outspoken observer of the iTV saga. In an AllThingsD guest column last year, he came out strongly against the prospect of Apple releasing a full-fledged TV. Back then, he argued that Apple will leverage iOS, the existing Apple TV product and the wonderful world of APIs to mesh Apple's interface savvy with the basic TV experience. But last December, Allaire wrote an updated opinion that opines a full-fledged TV will happen--and he recently reiterated to TechHive that he believes Apple will sell a pair of large screen iTVs.
"Likely coming in 46-inch and 60-inch models with solid glass front and aluminum back, and stand and rear mounting options, this ultrathin monitor will mirror the design aesthetic of the latest iPhone and iPad," Allaire wrote in his company's blog.
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