Apple's TV ambitions have been "put on hold again," according to unnamed sources cited by NPD DisplaySearch's Paul Gagnon. Those sources are in the TV industry's supply chain, and Mr. Gagnon speculates that Apple could be focusing on another long-rumored product entry, wearable computers (or wearables).
I'm a little ambivalent on this particular rumor, but it's being picked up far and wide on this holiday. Accordingly, I felt like I should explain my ambivalence.
First of all, the blog post itself is shy on detail. The core of the rumor is simply that supply chain sources said that Apple has put its TV ambitions on hold. The problem with that is that the supply chain never knows what Apple's actual plans are.
Apple is always ordering up components for test devices, and suppliers don't know what the big picture is going to be. Mr. Gagnon's source could be 100 percent earnest, honest, and passing on legit information to the best of his or her knowledge and it still not be representative of Apple's product plans.
Which is not to say that I think Apple is going to release an expanded TV product in the near future. Mr. Gagnon notes—and I agree—that the problem with Apple's TV ambitions is getting content deals from the U.S. TV market, which is comprised of a myriad of companies worried about upsetting the apple cart of their existing models and terrified that Apple will do TV so well that it ends up owning the customer experience.
You know, because the last point would somehow be bad.
But Mr. Gagnon also argues that the point of Apple's hardware is to sell more software, apps, books, music, TV shows, and movies. This is precisely and utterly backwards. The content exists to drive sales of hardware, not the other way around.
It's hard for me to buy into a rumor based on the interpretation of incomplete information when the author so fundamentally misunderstands Apple's very existence. Normally, that would be enough for me to ignore the rumor and move on, but since it's been widely picked up, someone needed to point out the problem.
I have caveats, though: NPD DisplaySearch is legitimately plugged into the TV industry. I have no doubt that Mr. Gagnon has a real source who gave him this information. But as we've seen for years, even legitimate sources in Apple's own supply chain—let alone a source in a supply chain that Apple isn't a part of—seldom have any idea of what Apple's end-game product plans are going to be.