Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a report last week that he expects Apple to have a “connected TV” on store shelves by 2011. According to Munster, the HDTV would feature DVR functionality and home media accessibility.
Am I the only person who is already getting excited about the possibility of Apple releasing such a product? Sure, the company has an Apple TV set-top box that connects to your current HDTV, but as Steve Jobs has said on numerous occasions, it’s just a “hobby” device that, so far, Apple hasn’t taken very seriously.
Perhaps that’s because it plans to create some interest in Apple’s multimedia features with the Apple TV and capture significant market share with an HDTV. That sounds like a plan to me.
But before Apple can start doing that, we need to remember that the company certainly won’t be first to provide such a product. LG already allows users to stream Netflix movies in its own set of connected TVs. Toshiba is also planning to offer connected TVs at some point in the future. Both companies are respected brands in the HDTV space. Apple will need to break through and differentiate itself in order to capture consumers away from those two brands.
Is there any doubt Apple will? Apple is simply the best at providing an experience. It’s also the best in the industry at determining what consumers want before they even know it. The Apple HDTV will certainly feature all the options currently available in the Apple TV, but it will also add an important feature that you won’t find in that set-top box: application support. Apple’s App Store has
become just as important to its success as iTunes. Without it, the iPhone wouldn’t be nearly as attractive of a product. By bundling both iTunes and the App Store into its connected TV, Apple will have a major leg up over its competitors.
Of course, whether or not Apple can deliver a solid product is up for debate. It would be the first HDTV the company would produce. And given the fact that that industry changes so rapidly, it might be difficult for Apple to stay on top for long.
Honestly, I’m not worried. Apple’s Cinema Displays are some of the best monitors on the market. They’re gorgeously designed, but they also feature outstanding picture quality. Apple has had some trouble with first-run products in the past, but that will be ignored once consumers see what Apple produces. If I had to bet, I’d say Apple’s connected TV would be the best-looking product on the market, it would have some of the most impressive specs, and it would have all the extras that would make Apple stand out in the industry.
The HDTV market is changing, but it’s arguably moving at a slow, calculated pace. Apple will change all that. It will put competitors on notice. And it will drastically improve our experience with HDTVs. Just look at what Apple has done in the smartphone space for proof of that.
I’m ready for an Apple HDTV. Now, who’s with me?
Don Reisinger is a technology columnist whose work has included popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move on Twitter at @donreisinger.