The TV debate

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    Posted: 14 April 2011 12:06 PM

    Minyanville’s Mike Shuster thinks Apple is not ready / willing to do the HD TV scheme.  He quotes Steve J

    The problem with innovation in the television industry is the go-to market strategy. The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everybody a set-top box for free, or for $10 a month. And that pretty much squashes any opportunity for innovation, because nobody’s willing to buy a set-top box. Ask Tivo, ask Replay TV, ask Roku, ask Vudu, ask us, ask Google in a few months.

    Sony’s tried, Panasonic’s tried, a lot of people tried. And they all failed.

    The only way that’s ever going to change is if you can really go back to square one, tear up the set top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different functions, and get it to consumers in a way that they’re willing to pay for it. And right now there’s no way to do that.

    Let’s break that last paragraph down.

    1. Square One.  Redesign from scratch.  (Apple is willing to do that.  Witness iOS and OS X, Final Cut Pro, About This Mac, MacWrite)
    2. Consistent UI.  (Apple is better than the thundering herd at this)
    3. Get it to consumers  
    4. In a way that they’re willing to pay
    5. And write now there’s no way to do that.

    Content delivery segments:

    1. Streaming.  Netflix, Apple.
    2. In the house:  to computer, to Apple TV, to TV


    Here’s my house and interaction with the TV:

    1. We could get ATT DSL TV, but we declined.  It doesn’t matter.
    2. 2 remotes. 
    3. the TV has a DVD/VHS drive attached.  We rarely use it.  Even if we did, its not exactly fun.
    4. channels—- the usual crap.      If there was a Ping / Facebook social network attached, then I’m sure the comments would be scathing.  Some channels would fold up.
    5.  Gives up, goes to Mac and enjoys the media library or internet or AFB.

    Apple TV is not in our cards at this time.  The demand isn’t there. 

    The market opportunity for Apple is there.  Its up to them to make an offer than we can’t refuse.  Otherwise, its going to a long relationship with Netflix streaming or buying DVD’s, in addition to books, news websites and maybe some magazine subscriptions thru iTunes.

         
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    Posted: 15 April 2011 04:13 AM #1

    I’ve been waiting for Apple to innovate there. I held out for a long-long time, without cable, without a DVD player, set top box, TIVO, bluray, and whatever else people always discuss… Actually, without a TV set, for that matter. smile

    A couple of months ago I finally got an LCD set and Apple TV (and a cheap-o upscaling DVD player in case friends bring a movie or it’s not yet available on iTunes or Amazon VOD, or Netflix).

    But I crave more.

    The problem here, as I see it, is not hardware competition, and not even small hardware margins. It is
    1) Speed of download - networks are still congested, although less so with the advent of FiOS (though I need to point out: I live in New York City, and still don’t have FioS in my building). This is getting better pretty rapidly.
    2) The incredible complexity of industry structure and the value chain of movies and TV, i.e. content. I used to think the industry is full of the dumbest, most arcane players who will always be resistant to change. While that’s true to an extent, after studying the industry in a bit more depth, things are just not as easy as moving all content to an Apple server farm and flicking off a switch to start selling.

    There are many players clamoring for control and many business models being tested out. No one knows what works yet. I think Steve alluded to this before. I think he also didn’t speak the whole truth (i.e. they’ve been definitely thinking about this, and we don’t know exactly what is on their minds).

    Let’s watch this space. Heck, I’m ready - just started using AirPlay to show photos from a recent trip and then watch a movie off of Netflix.

    What’s next, Apple? :apple:

         
  • Posted: 15 April 2011 05:16 PM #2

    @Treehouse: I thought your initial post did a great job of breaking out some of the key issues regarding a possible Apple TV or Apple set-box. I’m surprised that the topic didn’t catch, but regardless, it was a very nice post on your part.

         
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    Posted: 15 April 2011 05:41 PM #3

    FalKirk - 15 April 2011 08:16 PM

    @Treehouse: I thought your initial post did a great job of breaking out some of the key issues regarding a possible Apple TV or Apple set-box. I’m surprised that the topic didn’t catch, but regardless, it was a very nice post on your part.

    I agree

    Two thoughts.

    It was reported some time ago that Apple was looking to sell the right to install AppleTV into TV’s.  That can allow them to get into the TV business thru the back door.  I think they could sell their own branded Apple TV set along side everyone else.  They would not compete since their TV would be about 50% more expensive.  Not sure there is enough demand for that product.

    So I think the time is not right because TV’s are still too expensive.  The reason the iPad took off was because of price.  When flatscreen HD TV’s in the 50” size are about $600 then they might have a shot.

         
  • Posted: 15 April 2011 05:44 PM #4

    Thought this was relevant to the discussion.

    http://www.9to5mac.com/61597/apple-branded-television-set-could-sport-hybrid-laser-projection-display-patent-indicates/

         
  • Posted: 17 April 2011 12:00 AM #5

    Mikedmvp - 15 April 2011 08:44 PM

    Thought this was relevant to the discussion.

    http://www.9to5mac.com/61597/apple-branded-television-set-could-sport-hybrid-laser-projection-display-patent-indicates/

    Projection video seems more in keeping with Apple’s penchant for reinventing the TV experience.  As others have posted, the picture quality of projection sets can be outstanding and probably offer better margin than the LCD/LED flat panels—a keenly competitive environment that would no doubt do damage to Apple’s envied gross margin.

         
  • Posted: 17 April 2011 04:31 PM #6

    Currently, I’m running a Sony XBR with Apple TV.  When I stream Netflix off Apple TV, the signal is very dodgy, even though I use Comcast for my cable connection.  I routinely get the pause, stutter, stop, resume with Netflix that ruins the experience. 

    TV needs to be reinvented but it won’t happen without improvement in two areas 1.  Better internet speed and throughput and 2.  Cooperation among content providers that allow more streaming.

         
  • Posted: 17 April 2011 04:48 PM #7

    Mercel - 17 April 2011 07:31 PM

    Currently, I’m running a Sony XBR with Apple TV.  When I stream Netflix off Apple TV, the signal is very dodgy, even though I use Comcast for my cable connection.  I routinely get the pause, stutter, stop, resume with Netflix that ruins the experience. 

    TV needs to be reinvented but it won’t happen without improvement in two areas 1.  Better internet speed and throughput and 2.  Cooperation among content providers that allow more streaming.

    I have the same set up (XBR & AppleTV), excep with Verizon FIOS. I almost never have the issue you mentioned.

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  • Posted: 17 April 2011 05:18 PM #8

    jeffi - 17 April 2011 07:48 PM
    Mercel - 17 April 2011 07:31 PM

    Currently, I’m running a Sony XBR with Apple TV.  When I stream Netflix off Apple TV, the signal is very dodgy, even though I use Comcast for my cable connection.  I routinely get the pause, stutter, stop, resume with Netflix that ruins the experience. 

    TV needs to be reinvented but it won’t happen without improvement in two areas 1.  Better internet speed and throughput and 2.  Cooperation among content providers that allow more streaming.

    I have the same set up (XBR & AppleTV), excep with Verizon FIOS. I almost never have the issue you mentioned.

    Did I tell you I loathe Comcast?  I also have the latest Bose setup that controls the Apple TV very nicely—I recommend it.

         
  • Posted: 17 April 2011 08:33 PM #9

    Mercel - 17 April 2011 08:18 PM
    jeffi - 17 April 2011 07:48 PM
    Mercel - 17 April 2011 07:31 PM

    Currently, I’m running a Sony XBR with Apple TV.  When I stream Netflix off Apple TV, the signal is very dodgy, even though I use Comcast for my cable connection.  I routinely get the pause, stutter, stop, resume with Netflix that ruins the experience. 

    TV needs to be reinvented but it won’t happen without improvement in two areas 1.  Better internet speed and throughput and 2.  Cooperation among content providers that allow more streaming.

    I have the same set up (XBR & AppleTV), excep with Verizon FIOS. I almost never have the issue you mentioned.

    Did I tell you I loathe Comcast?  I also have the latest Bose setup that controls the Apple TV very nicely—I recommend it.

    So do I! But… The Bose system does not have enough inputs for my needs and it’s not expandable (I think).

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    Posted: 17 April 2011 09:28 PM #10

    All of the reasons Marco Arment lists as to why Apple won?t build an actual television are good ones. But they?re also all good reasons why the market badly needs to be disrupted ? and is ripe for it.

    The argument that televisions are ?an extremely competitive, commoditized market with very slim margins and most purchasing decisions going to whoever has the most features? sounds exactly like the PC market 15 years ago.

    Remember, Apple was going to fail at computers because price is all that matters. A decade later, Apple was going to fail at phones because price is all that matters.

    http://parislemon.com/post/4675190960/on-apples-must-see-tv

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  • Posted: 17 April 2011 09:41 PM #11

    jeffi - 17 April 2011 11:33 PM

    So do I! But… The Bose system does not have enough inputs for my needs and it’s not expandable (I think).

    So you learned the Bose remote trick to select Apple TV THEN the play button (this is a software issue Bose is working on)?  I have the Lifestyle V35 with the black remote—much improved over the previous model IMO.

         
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    Posted: 18 April 2011 08:22 AM #12

    Big page from Chris Dixon and commenters.

    Fun reading.  Maybe someone can separate the wheat and chaff, grapes from vines, cream from curds.

    [ Edited: 18 April 2011 08:24 AM by Treehouse ]      
  • Posted: 18 April 2011 08:38 AM #13

    Treehouse - 18 April 2011 11:22 AM

    Big page from Chris Dixon and commenters.

    Fun reading.  Maybe someone can separate the wheat and chaff, grapes from vines, cream from curds.

    I might be writing a post based on the article you cited, but if I get around to it, my response is going to be be comprehensive and Looooooooong. In the meantime, this is my primary takeaway from the article:

    The mistake analysts made about the iPhone was to assume the current industry structure would be sustained after Apple?s entry. I?d be wary of making the same assumption about the TV industry.

         
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    Posted: 18 April 2011 04:13 PM #14

    Google closes up its Google Video section.  Users had been given plenty of warning.

    Content drives user interest of course.  The tectonic shift from a half-dozen networks will continue.  Videos that I watch are overwhelmingly on new networks or foreign networks.  Youtube is the most visible elephant.

    For licensed video (movies, TV shows, paid sites), the channel (found a pun) where/who Apple, Google, etc would negotiate with is fairly fluid (pun bonus).

    The idea that Apple might buy out Disney/ABC was raised again, this time by Conor Sen at Minyanville.  I’ve long thought that Apple would make a move on some content providers.  I now am leaning toward that Apple is going to drop an anvil from a really high height.  Apple doesn’t want any competitors momentum to have a prayer.

         
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    Posted: 18 April 2011 04:36 PM #15

    TVs are starting to get Apps. How long can Apple resist?

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