Apple Thought to Be Well Positioned for Next Big Thing in TV

A new report from Retrevo argues that Apple may be in a unique position to compete in the television set market. The research firm noted that CES is just around the corner and that HDTVs will no doubt be prominently on display, but with the market maturing and prices continuing to fall, Apple could be the next big thing to generate excitement and sales.

Once upon a time, when you bought a TV you might have had a particular brand in mind. That brand was better and you were willing to pay a bit more to have its quality and cutting edge technology. Those days are gone, according to Retrevo.

Data compiled by the company shows that brands, such as Sony, that once were able to command a premium price are no longer able to do so. Prices for even large, internet connected TVs have dropped substantially and price differentials have been squeezed. The chart below shows how prices for Sony, a high-end brand, and Vizio, a budget brand, have been converging from March of 2010 through November of 2011.

Graph showing decline in TV prices

The report also found that Internet connectivity is now included in over half of the 37” or larger TVs introduced in 2011. This connectivity allows for the development of ecosystems, such as Apple’s Airplay and Samsung’s AllShare, that facilitate sharing of a variety of media among devices.

Add in such accessories as remote controllers, games, and apps, and the environment gets even more dynamic. Retrevo believes that the software that integrates it all, along with content offerings, will separate one system from another.

This is where Apple may have an edge. The rumored “iTV” would likely follow the model of the iPod and the way that device was tied to iTunes. No doubt the hardware would be cool, but the content deals that Apple may be able to arrange could be just as important. At the same time, Apple would be expected to conform to it’s own high standards for the user interface. 

According to the report, “Apple will also show the industry how to make a TV friendlier with new UI features for the 10-foot interface or they might use the iPad as a controller or to add ‘smarts.’ As we move into the year of the tech ecosystem, Apple is in a perfect position to integrate a TV into its own tech ecosystem where data can move between devices using Airplay. An Apple TV would be one of many Apple devices that can take advantage of smart agents like Siri, ready and able to help you with all your media and entertainment needs.”

Sony was seen as best able to compete due to the company’s TVs, PlayStation, Sony Pictures, cameras, audio gear, and Blu-ray, but that’s only if it could meld them into an coherent ecosystem. Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and some others all have a chance as well.

As put it, “We’ll be watching Sony, Samsung and other TV giants at CES as we wait for Apple, Microsoft, or Google to make their move.”