Steve Jobs Killed Apple Television Idea in Secret Meeting

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs said no to Apple TelevisionThe notion of an Apple-branded television may sound exciting, but Apple co-founder Steve Jobs shot down the idea before he stepped down as company CEO. His revelation came during a secret meeting with the company's top executives and sales people, and seem contradictory to the ongoing rumors that Apple has been designing just that.

When asked during the meeting whether or not Apple was working on a television, Mr. Jobs said, "No." He added, "TV is a terrible business. They don't turn over and the margins suck."

His comments from the secret staff meeting were detailed in Yukaro Iwatani Kane's book, "Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs," according to Business Insider. She was also a Wall Street Journal technology reporter before jumping into her book, and covered Apple for the publication.

The meeting was something that Mr. Jobs occasionally scheduled so his top 100 people could talk opening about current and future projects, as well as company business. The meetings were kept secret, and attendees weren't allowed to email, text, tweet, or interact with the outside world.

Mr. Jobs's response to the television question seems plausible because consumers tend to upgrade their TVs only about once every seven or eight years, inventory takes up a lot of retail store space, and retailers make little money on sales. What makes more sense is the continued evolution of the Apple TV. The US$99 set top box falls in the impulse buy zone, takes up little space in stores, and hits a price point where consumers can be convinced to buy newer versions far more often.

Mr. Jobs's comments throw cold water on the hopes and predictions of Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. He's been predicting the Apple television would be coming and even went so far as to say it would ship in late 2013. The year ended without any sign of an Apple television while the Apple TV continues to get software updates.

He predicted the Apple television would be available in sizes ranging from 42-inches up to 55-inches, and would cost between $1,500 and $2,000.

While Mr. Jobs sounded pretty clear on his stance that Apple wouldn't make a television, that doesn't completely kill the idea. He could've been been sharing only part of his plan, meaning his "no" response should've also come with the clause, "for right now."

Since Mr. Jobs's death, there isn't any chance of him influencing Apple's current leadership team, including CEO Tim Cook. If Mr. Cook thinks a move into the television market makes sense for the company, then it'll happen.

For now, wearable technology seems to be Apple's focus. The company has been hiring health and fitness experts, Mr. Cook has said Apple is very interested in out wrists, and he also said the company will enter into new markets in 2014.

Apple hasn't made any announcements yet, but when it does, it'll more likely be some form of wearable technology, and not a fancy new television.

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I've been saying all along that a television just doesn't make sense for Apple. Instead, sell the Apple TV and let people connect it to whatever television they want. Profit margins will be higher for Apple, and it's a product the company can convince consumers to replace more often than every seven years.

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Like you, I’ve always thought a TV made no sense—too many sizes, too many standards, too much space for storage—just too many variables to build for in such a large box… That’s not the current Apple way of simplify…


I’ve a hunch that Yukaro Iwatani Kane slanted to the negative in her book to boost notoriety and sales.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I’m already going to Hell, but when I saw the headline, I imagined Tim Cook and Phil Schiller leading a séance.


This matches what I’ve been saying since the first AppleTelevision rumours. It wasn’t going to happen.


There is no reason for Apple not to make a TV if they can command the quoted prices.

Look at for 50” TVs, mostly in the $600 to $800 dollar range. I don’t know what margin Jobs was looking for but a 100% increment over the market doesn’t look bad to me.

As to turnover time, what do you think makes Apple more money, selling an iPhone or their cut from sales in the iTunes app store?

Consumer printer companies don’t worry about markup (or even profit) on the printers, they make their money downstream selling the consumables.

Apps are the consumables for iOS devices and content is the consumable for an Apple TV.

It could happen.


Having TVs would really change the dynamics in the one-level Apple stores. I assume the higher prices of Apple television sets would somewhat preclude much change in the customer base.

It’s easier to envision Apple creating an entertainment hub that streams music and videos, plays games, etc., but also handles subscription TV, including recording shows (perhaps handing that stream off to an optional device or service), replacing the cable box/DVR, Roku, etc. And doing so with great elegance and ease of use, including allowing iOS devices as remotes.

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