Can Apple Convince Me I Want a Smaller TV?
Dec 29, 2011 5:00 AM PT
Even before Steve Jobs admitted to his biographer that he had cracked the modern television nut, Apple fans have long suspected -- and hoped -- that Apple's little hobby Apple TV set-top box was just a stepping stone to a bigger and better HDTV living room experience.
The latest rumors throw fuel on the fire: Digitimes has reported that Apple's suppliers are gearing up to produce components for delivery of an Apple TV -- a big one, not the set-top box -- sometime in 2012. More specifically, Samsung might be making the chips for an "iTV," while Sharp might make the screens. The screen sizes indicate the iTV would come in 32 and 37-inch models.
What? Just 37 inches? Come on! I'm at once beside myself with excitement to hopefully see a radical new way of watching and enjoying TV -- yet already disappointed. Irrational? You bet. This is, after all, just another rumor, and while it's likely to barely scratch the surface of what Apple will ultimately unveil, I'd really like Apple to offer me something that I want . . . even though, according to Jobs, it's not my job to know what I want until Apple shows me.
A Bedroom TV?
Plenty of people who live in small homes could use a 37-inch TV, especially one with a wicked-sharp display. But what about all of those football-loving big-screen HDTVs out there -- particularly the big screens found in the homes of media-gobbling consumers of flickering images? Could those consumers be satisfied with such a small screen?
I have a 42-inch HDTV in my living room, and I can't imagine replacing it with something smaller, even with something that delivers a brighter, clearer picture. In fact, I'd much rather have a larger TV.
To settle for something smaller, could I be wowed by elegant design? Not this time. Could I be wowed by a Siri interface or a slick touchscreen remote that would let me flick around? No. Would I lust after an iTV enough to put one in the bedroom? Not hardly. There's no way Apple will actually produce a TV that's competitive in price to today's 32- and 37-inchers, and I'm not the kind of buyer who'll put a premium TV in a bedroom.
If these rumors pan out, I'll end up being a spectator.
If Fancypants Navigation Is Out, How About the Best Shows?
If the iTV is just 37 inches with a slick menu and integration with my iCloud and iTunes-based media, I'll be looking at a big fat disappointment. As for non-Apple fans, this sort of iTV will likely garner a few passing glances, at best.
If we're lucky, Apple will also create a new Apple TV set-top box that will let us connect to larger HDTVs and enjoy whatever is great about the new iTV. So what could that possibly be?
Clearly, Apple has to find some sort of content deal so its customers can consume live, broadcast TV in new ways. Apple could produce a new HDTV that serves up ice cream and popcorn, but if it doesn't let us watch the Super Bowl, broadcast news, and the TV shows we're addicted to on broadcast night, it's just a nice toy.
Apple has previously expressed interest in some sort of new menu that would let consumers pick all the best shows they actually want (as opposed to getting tiers of service from cable or satellite providers packed with lousy channels), but that will require buy-in from all the rights owners associated with the production and delivery of today's TV. That's a big deal.
Most of these owners are more interested in raising and protecting profits than in creating an amazing experience for consumers. There's reasons why our cable companies aren't giving us what we want.
Better Than the Best Shows?
Even if an iTV should make it to the bedroom, can you imagine a husband or wife talking through a menu or asking for a show, artist, or channel out loud in the wee hours of the night? There are definitely some possibilities that don't make a lot of sense. But what does make sense? A breakfast table TV?
I've long thought about mounting an Apple TV-connected HDTV over my kitchen table. Why? Music and photo slideshows. Why not an iMac?
Easy answer: Too expensive.
And yet, what if an iTV were integrated with far more than premier content, cloud-based DVR for iPhone and iPod access, along with iCloud movies? What if an iTV could show off the calendar of a particular family member? Email? What if an iTV came with a Notification Center like we have on our iPhones? Something that shows weather, even key headline news feeds?
Instead of an HDTV that we use to wind down our evenings with witty comedies and action-packed movies, could Apple be creating an iTV that starts our day and integrates our entire digital lives?
Would I buy a 37-inch Apple iTV then?
I just wouldn't put in my living room.