Apple Need Not be Panicked by the CES TV Blitzes

| Editorial

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a time for massive PR blitzes and the fruits of massive technical efforts and trial visions of the our electronics future. Should all the new CES TV technologies and announcements alarm Apple? Are opportunities disappearing?

Concept by Martin Hajek

Let's say that Apple is indeed working on a next generation TV project. Let's further assume that this involves some significant R&D money, the kind that brought us the iPad Air with its low weight and 64-bit processor.

Should Apple be worried about all the smart TV announcements, curved displays and TV technologies and partnerships we're seeing at CES?

My take is that the furious development of hardware technologies, designed to spur sales and recover from the TV industry's 3D fiasco are also designed to build a protective shield against anything Apple may do next. That's great for making a splash, but not so wise when it comes to competing with Apple.

The history of CES and Apple suggests that while advancing the TV technology is a good thing for the mainstream industry, it won't do much to take the wind out of Apple's efforts -- efforts that we suspect will be in the typical "Blow your socks off" style. That takes time and attention.

There are several things going on here. First, Apple has a core customer base, and they're not going to spring for an off brand HDTV with, for example, Roku, built in. In addition, Apple has such a powerful brand and market appeal that only a small number of customers will jump on these defensive bandwagons. They'll be looking for the Real Thing from Apple.

Also, Apple knows that some of these competitive announcements are a shot in the dark, like putting lipstick on a chicken. Modern high technology companies have the ability to graft various technologies together to create something new, but whether that will be compelling to millions of customers is always an iffy proposition.  Apple, on the other hand, creates products that people stand in line for.

We know that when Apple does something new, it will reveal the bankruptcy of vision with other technologies that are simply merged together without too much thought about the human element. They look exciting during the CES grandeur, but quickly fade in the harsh reality of the marketplace.

I don't think it's time to panic. Apple has shown us before how the pomp and circumstance of CES inevitably pales compared to Apple's inspired visions.

If Apple does next generation TV right, and I'm betting it will, waiting for a proper fruition isn't something to fear.

Comments

Gareth Harris

Once again the apple difference is not specs or technology. After all, the shelves are full of gimmicks. While delivering solid hardware near but not on the bleeding edge, Apple’s edge is usability and build quality, plus system integration into an solid platform.

When I worked for various manufacturers in the past, including my own, we finally learned to avoid the mob of the big shows and make our own separate splash later when ready. This gave higher profile and more finish.

MacFrogger

Hi Gareth!  Re: “While delivering solid hardware near but not on the bleeding edge…”.  I and many others would take serious issue with that kind of lead!  wink

Tis true that based on (often-rigged) performance tests Apple does not always come out on top in all categories, but how can anyone say that the iPhone, iPad Air, MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, and the new cylindrical Mac Pro are not actually defining the “bleeding edge?”  Of course they also produce non-bleeding edge products, because they can be sold at a lower cost in large quantities because not everyone needs, e.g.,  a new Mac Pro!

iJack

I’m curious why John believes anyone might be thinking Apple would be panicking, then sets out to poo-poo the idea.  4K/8K isn’t gonna make the big difference for TV buyers. I doubt that Apple’s future, undefined offering is either.  A new TV is certainly an item where consumers buy the best they can afford, regardless of the name on it.

CudaBoy

Smart money says Apple is worklng on NFC big time, NOT A TV!!! The content side of TV is a mess!  NFC was once “bleeding edge” and STILL is not in Apple’s ouvre. That will change. The iPod/iPhone/iPad interface was bleeding edge for a short while but with no gyros or NFC and other benchmarks like battery life, weight, screen res., Apple is definitely not bleeding edge. Apple can still ride the phone/pod/pad wave for a long time but bleeding edge they are not.
Curved screens are a hint at the future whether it’s a 100” Samsung beauty or the Apple iWatch which will be an almost single piece SMALL solid curved shiny screen around your wrist. iWatch will be a mini NFC hub that will talk to your smartphone or WiFi or LAN with scrolling e-mail, Nike Fuelband integration. iWatch could possibly end credit cards, keys, and other NFC related functionality. No, Apple is NOT panicking about TVs at all.

adamC

@Macfrogger

The Mac Pro is not for everyone.

@Cudaboy

NFC is history.

CudaBoy

@adamC   - I’m lumping motion sensor chips - 3d gyro dual axis, and possibly a new chip into “NFC” - the same as gas station key fobs, car fobs, the “next” credit card - maybe I’m wrong but all that stuff is on the rise in sales wise - big time. Stuff that “knows” where it is and can talk within a “near field” - are you kidding me?
Apple is playing copycat right now in the patent office with nfc, look it up.

wab95

Very well said, John.

I didn’t take your meaning to be that anyone is arguing that Apple is or should be panicking, but rather at CES, Apple is always the elephant in the room of which some speak but to which others only allude in veiled reference, but always with the same message, ‘How will this compete with whatever Apple has or will have in near term?’.

This is true even when the press ask industry CES attendees direct questions about other competition. I saw a BBC interview yesterday at which Sony’s CEO was directly asked about MS and PlayStation vs Xbox. He brushed past that in seconds to get back to talking the watch thing on his wrist and innovation and the long game. Now, to whom could he possibly be referring with respect to wearable tech - a wrist thing in particular - and innovation? Sure, it could be Google, maybe even Samsung, but why did he launch with the wrist thing?

As for TVs in particular, I don’t view most of what happens at CES is anything more than industry’s attempt to garner free publicity in order make a grab for mindshare, pure and simple. It is also an occasion to make an attempt, a typically feeble one I might add, to manipulate and mould consumer demand by averring that ‘THIS’, whatever ‘this’ might be for that year, is what ‘EVERYONE’ is going to want and will be the new standard. My response to that is, ‘3D TV in 2011’. One struggles to even recall what some of the other industry pushes were in years prior or since, however CES seldom presages popular uptake of new trends.

Oh, and how often have Apple upstaged CES without even attending or saying so much as one word? I see this current TV flurry and foofaraw as a defensive and a reaction to CES 2009 and the looming release of the iPad.

I think Apple can and will keep calm and focus on what they do best.

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