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Apple's big-screen TV was a no-show at WWDC, but analysts say it's coming soon

Mark Sullivan | June 13, 2013
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.

While the features and price of the device are important, the device itself is slightly beside the point. iTV will be all about the user interface, and the way it serves up rich media content in the living room. "People talk about Apple trying to replace the TV experience, but that's obviously not where they're going," Huang says. "They are not trying to replace a TV with a TV. They're trying to get their TV on the mantle to drive this rich content experience that has not been available in a home living room environment before."

Of course, not all analysts are so bullish. "The typical Apple product life span is about two years, while the typical TV has a life span of seven to eight years," IBS analyst Dan Cryan told TechHive. "Launching a TV just wouldn't fit well with their market and upgrade approach."

All true, but one thing is for sure: Apple needs that fifth screen if it's to extend its reach across every portion of our media-immersed lives. The basic TV-watching experience is in dire need of a refresh, a new approach. Just look at the channel guide on your cable box. Apple looks at this broken UI and sees dollar signs on the horizon.

A hostile takeover of the living room
Brightcove's Allaire believes Apple will release TV products in two form factors. People who are attached to their current TVs could buy a set-top box--a completely overhauled Apple TV with an iOS/Siri interface built in. Meanwhile, those who want the full monty can splurge for the iTV, which would include everything that's in the set-top box.

Allaire says the new set-top box would look like a long, low-profile console, and would allow users to beam rich media apps from their iPads and iPhones onto an existing TV, wirelessly via AirPlay. Importantly, the device would include a motion sensor, cameras and other features normally found on gaming consoles.

As for the new iTV, in his blog post Allaire writes it would feature "gorgeous display quality (probably 4K resolution), an A7 quad-core CPU for graphics and gaming, front-facing motion sensors and camera, and enough storage for games, apps, content, and recorded live TV." Allaire believes the TV would also have a couple of Lightning ports--one for power and the other for a "coax dongle" that would accommodate your cable or satellite feed, and erase the need for a set-top box from your service provider.

With these new devices, Apple would be declaring war on two fronts--against HDTV/Smart TV makers like Samsung and Sony on one side, and against Microsoft and its Xbox One (and all the other gaming console and set-top box manufacturers) on the other side.

 

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