Jean-Louis Gassée , a former president of the Apple Products Division, wrote a piece on his Mondaynote blog where he dismissed the idea that Apple will be releasing a full fledge TV set, which I would refer to as iTV in this post.
According to Gassée:
[quote] I simply don’t believe Apple will make, or even wants to make, a TV set. To realize the dream, as discussed previously, you need to put a computer — something like an Apple TV module — inside the set. Eighteen months later, as Moore’s Law dictates, the computer is obsolete but the screen is just fine.[/quote]
The piece basically rubbished Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster prediction that Apple’s iTV will be released in 2013 and “will be the biggest thing in consumer electronics since the smartphone”.
Personally, I’m with Munter on this. I believe he has nailed it, however, I’m not sure on the release date.
What an Apple’s iTV would look like?
Gassée argument against Apple building a TV set illustrates his misunderstanding of the problem Steve Jobs and Co are attempting to solve. And this is not an isolated issue, the same can be said about many pundits in 2007.
[quote] …But just watch the [competitors’] advertisements that you hear for the ability to download music onto your mobile phone. Music on the mobile phone has to be downloaded in an open architecture way from Yahoo! Music or someplace else [other than iTunes]. Which means it’s clunkier, not as good. Mobile phones don’t have as much storage capacity, nor are their interfaces as intuitive [as iPods]. But for some folks, they’re good enough, and the trajectories [of people using their phone as a medium for listening to music] just keep getting better and better.
So music on the mobile phone is going to disrupt the iPod? But Apple’s just about to launch the iPhone.
The iPhone is a sustaining technology relative to Nokia. In other words, Apple is leaping ahead on the sustaining curve [by building a better phone]. But the prediction of the theory would be that Apple won’t succeed with the iPhone. They’ve launched an innovation that the existing players in the industry are heavily motivated to beat: It’s not [truly] disruptive. History speaks pretty loudly on that, that the probability of success is going to be limited.[/quote]
Despite many of these doom and gloom articles, Apple went ahead and launch iPhone, which revolutionized and disrupted the mobile industry. So, why did Christensen and many others go it wrong?
John Gruber answered this question in a great piece here. This is what he had to say:
[quote] This explains everything that has happened to both the computer and phone industries over the past five years. The iPhone is not and never was a phone. It is a pocket-sized computer that obviates the phone. The iPhone is to cell phones what the Mac was to typewriters.
..The iPod’s success fooled almost everyone (including me) into thinking that Apple’s entry into the phone market would be similar. The iPod was the world’s best portable media player; the “iPhone”, thus, would likely be the world’s best cell phone.
But that’s not what it was. It was the world’s best portable computer. Best not in the sense of being the most powerful, or the fastest, or the most-efficient to use. The thing couldn’t even do copy-and-paste. It was the best because it was always there, always on, always just a button-push away. The disruption was not that we now finally had a nice phone; it was that, for better or for worse, we would now never again be without a computer or the Internet. It was the Mac side of Apple, not the iPod side, that set the engineering foundation for the iPhone.[/quote]
I believe the same would be said of the Apple’s iTV in retrospect. Instead of being the best portable computer, Apple’s iTV will be the best desktop computer in your living room. And like Gruber stated, it probably wouldn’t have the latest technology launch but you can rest assure that this will change in the coming years. Just like the iPhone.
In his post Gruber highlighted that pundits were wrong in thinking that Apple was creating a cell phone based on the iPod, instead Apple took inspiration from the Mac side. It’s clear that many pundits are making the same mistake in relation to the upcoming iTV.
Why would Apple make a full fledge TV Set?
First and foremost Apple is a hardware company. The company tends to use its expertise in software to build beautiful devices that just work. However, hardware is Apple’s bread and butter unlike Amazon.
I envisioned that Apple’s iTV will be scaled up version of the iPad, without the touch screen. It is worth remembering that the first iPhone was created as a scaled down version of an iPad prototype. Steve Jobs alluded to this in his interview with Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD in 2007.
Apple’s iTV will have Apps, Siri, FaceTime, a high quality HD display and many other hardware and software features currently seen on the iPad.
By creating its own TV set Apple will have full control over the look and feel of the device. In Apple’s true tradition, this will create a seamless marriage of hardware and software. This is currently the case with all of Apple’s devices. I don’t see a set-top box providing the level of vertical integration that will be needed to make Apple’s iTV a truly revolutionary product. As Steve famously said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
What’s happened over the last five years shows not that Apple disrupted the phone handset industry, but rather that Apple destroyed the handset industry — by disrupting the computer industry,” said Gruber. “Today, cell phones are apps, not devices.”
Apple is on the verge of destroying the TV industry – by disrupting the computer industry again. This is because at its very core, Apple is a PC company. This what they do best.