It was being seen in the news allover, what if Apple launches HDTV? But now it morphed to solid rumors.
According to a new Piper Jaffray note this week, analyst Gene Munster says he expects Apple to eventually get into the HDTV market providing a full home entertainment system alongside the Apple TV media device.
Additionally, Munster says that a new, updated Apple TV is coming before Christmas, including DVR and a monthly sub to iTunes
“We believe Apple is exploring a subscription-based offering for its TV content in iTunes,” says Munster, via The Street. “Apple could leverage its deep library of content with many network and cable channel content owners to provide unlimited access to a sub-library of its TV shows for a standard monthly fee.”
Adds Apple COO Tim Cook of the Apple TV:
“It is clear that the movie rental business has really helped Apple TV and there are more and more customers that want to try it,” he says, noting that sales were up 300 percent year-on-year. “We’re going to continue to invest in it, because we fundamentally believe there is something there for us in the future.”
Of course it’s just speculation at this point, but that describes 99 percent of Apple-related blogging anyway, right? And in that vein I think an iPhone/iTouch enabled HDTV would be pretty dang cool if the company did it right. Let’s call it the “iHDTV.”
Imagine a television that’s smoothly integrated into both your home network–for streaming your videos, photos and music–and the Internet at large, including not just iTunes for music and movies but the whole array of Web-based content currently available through the browser on your computer. The company’s Apple TV box works great already for many of those functions, and the first step a future iHDTV would need to take is to build that functionality right into the flat-screen TV itself, without the need for an external box.
Even with a built-in Apple TV box and a big, shiny Apple logo, the iHDTV would barely rate a “ho-hum” from jaded tech reviewers like myself. Nope, the real coolness and opportunity for innovation would be the seamless integration of a high-powered, Web-enabled touch-screen remote control–especially one 48 million people already own. Like, say, an iPhone.
I think an iPhone or iPod Touch, mated to an Internet-enabled television, makes an even more perfect input device. We love the current iTunes remote app, which controls iTunes or an Apple TV box, as well as theSonos app, which does the same thing with the Sonos multi-room audio system. How much cooler could an iHDTV/iPhone combo be?
I’m sure the people at Apple and the app developers themselves could think up even better uses for the iPhone/HDTV combo. You probably can too–let us know in comments.
Before 2011, of course, significant hurdles remain between today and the perfect union I’m envisioning. The TV market has its established players, who have their own (mostly, currently) weak attempts at Internet-enabled TVs, as well as track records at producing high-quality display devices. Apple needs to get the content side right, which means adding Netflix streaming at least, or even “opening up” a sort of media browser in the TV to Hulu and similar Web-based providers. And oh yeah: it needs to make a TV with a good picture (and a frame that isn’t white, please!). There’s no doubt that the iHDTV would be an expensive beast, however, so why not go all-out with OLED? or newer more thinner, Flexible, Brighter Ultrathin LED?
As for the HDTV, Munster expects a 2011 debut, and the completion of a full Apple home entertainment center.
“The device would push Apple further into the digital living room with interactive TV, music, movie, and gaming features,” he added. “Such a device would command a premium among a competitive field of budget TVs.”