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Apple TV Update: Rumors of Apple Testing Designs

Apple TV Rumors

Apple is testing new designs for its long rumored TV product. Foxconn and Hon Hai are involved along with panel supplier Sharp, per the latest report from the WSJ.

Is 2013 finally going to be the year when Apple does break into the living room ? Analyst’s have predicted some sort of TV or set top box for years. Gene Munster has repeatedly claimed a new TV product would be launched for the past few years. Each year passes and excuses are spewed out as fast as the iTV rumors are generated. This coming year could be different for all of those predictions.

Steve Jobs passed away and his book revealed a bit more information.

“I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. 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.”

This quote was from  2011 and Steve was already pretty deep into internal discussions about the product. The problem was not the hardware, but the content and how to offer it at a reasonable rate after signing deals with providers. CBS later that year reported turning down Apple on a content deal due to ad splitting. Providers have always been nervous about the web and streaming taking away from their core cable business. This could be the major setback that Apple is still dealing with.

Current Apple CEO Tim Cook stated in February of this year that Apple TV is a hobby. “Apple doesn’t do hobbies as a general rule”. This was an echo of what former CEO Steve Jobs stated more than once about the dream product. Just a few months later at D10, Cook was quoted with the following statement.

“I think most people, maybe not all, but many people would say this is an area in their life they’re not really pleased with. You know, they might not be pleased with many things about it. The whole TV experience. So, it’s an interesting area, so we’ll have to see what we do.”

This was a step in a different direction for Apple. It was an admitted bigger idea than a hobby and putting these words out at the D10 conference was meaningful.

Fast forward though many other WSJ reports about iTV leaks and rumors we get to the latest and it could carry a bit more water. One of their sources said “It isn’t a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing.” Again, this is a new direction versus previous stories and points to the plan evolving.

One thing is certain about a possible TV product. Their fans have shown interest and Apple must hit a home run to take the market place by storm. The current Apple TV product is viewed by most as a crippled product with too many software and content limitations. Hardware is always solid from Apple, but the content and interface is where I believe they are struggling. They will want an iTunes like control over the content and pricing models. Providers are going to want their fair cut and deservedly so, but Apple does not always see things in the same light.

These negotiations may have previously been the stopping point, but Apple could be moving past that. What if Apple jumped most of  the content sources and went straight to building the hardware? Could this be the move that forces providers into giving in as the media and fans build hype for the product?  There have been no announcements about content, but it will just take one or two I think to get the wheels in motion. No one wants to be left behind, but they don’t want to leave money on the table.

Google has attempted a few versions of Google TV with very little success. The upcoming Google Fiber TV offering might be the best yet, but it’s only available to a few residents of Kansas City. Will 2013 be the year the two companies will fight for the living room or just another year of battling mobile platforms?

Apple TV Rumors

Tim Cook Hints at Apple TV.

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