A Few Notes About Apple’s Rumored TV

I am calling Apple’s TV “iVT.”

For one, “iTV” is a trademark, so that’s out — especially with all the aggravation Apple has had with “iPad” in China.

Secondly, “iVT” makes more sense: Interactive Video and Television. (If people want to be lazy and still call it “iTV,” Apple can’t stop them — but at least Apple won’t be doing the trademark infringement.)

And the following is not a comprehensive list.

1) TV will be reduced to an app

Just as the iPhone reduced the telephone to an app. I think the iVT will be iOS based. Apple will also be able to slice out a new App Store for special big-screen iVT apps. Yes, developers, Apple is going to give you another gold rush. You better start thinking about it now.

2) Wireless enabled via 3G, WiFi, and Bluetooth

It’s very, very connected.

3) 3G-enabled, phone capability for FaceTime chat

I believe this will be the first 3G-enabled TV. And not just for FaceTime chat, but for security reasons too. You can call your TV and turn on its camera for silent monitoring. Rev up those privacy issues (and don’t even think about jailbreaking it!).

4) Apple Discovery Guide, replacing local cable guides

That’s a key way Apple distinguishes its TV from others: Discovery. I can’t find any channel quickly. Time Warner Cable is supposed to be revamping its guide, but I have little hope for real success there, given the remote control it requires. The Guide will be silently downloaded in the background, via user-selected 3G or WiFi. Apple will also make money from those who want to promote their programs and movies. And this Discovery Guide will also have Parental Controls. The kids cannot watch what you won’t let them see.

5) Apple Control Center for setup and activities

The iVT will sense the kind of cable or satellite box that’s plugged into it and automagically configure itself. But beyond that will be settings for microphone sensitivity, FaceTime speaker volume, for Siri short commands (voice macros), and more. Password-protection via facial recognition? How would you like your TV to turn on if the Emergency Broadcast System is activated? Those on the West Coast would have been alerted to 9-11 while they slept.

6) iVT App Store

What kind of apps would make sense on a large flat screen that’s voice controlled? Further, what apps would you want to see for a Bluetooth game controller? And what would you want when Microsoft announces Kinect for iVT?

7) Sleep mode displaying a photo or animation or message

The iVT never really turns off (shades of 1984!). It will go into a low-power sleep mode. A screensaver can be displayed. It could be your album of photos pulled from iCloud. It can be a message that’s been sent to it via 3G (“Dear Wife: I love you. Late at the office,” “Dear Husband: Take out the trash.” “Susie: Do your homework first!”). Other apps are possible, likely via plug-ins to the Control Center.

I’m still not impressed. It’s still Just TV to me. And there’s something else Apple needs to consider in terms of where this large thing sits. How stable will the base be? Can a child knock it over and be injured? Could a cat jump on it and knock it over?

Note again that I’m not trying to be comprehensive here. Picture in picture? Who knows? Apple is bound to have some surprises. But I think some of the things I’ve mentioned here very likely.

Personally, I’m interested to see if Tim Cook — or anyone else at Apple — will approve an “Apple Reinvents Television” Keynote slide, as Steve had for the iPhone introduction.

4 Comments

Filed under Apple: The Company

4 responses to “A Few Notes About Apple’s Rumored TV

  1. GC

    3G enable? Really? If it is already connected to the Internet using wi-fi why would you want, or need, to pay for a 3G account to connect your TV to the Internet? 3G is for ‘non-stationery’ mobile items such as mobile phones for example. Apple doesn’t even put 3G in their MacBooks which are much more mobile than TVs are. Apple also already has a service that allows remote access called ‘Back to My Mac’ that can be extended to work on any networked device like an Apple TV to enable the type of functionality you are talking about.

    • mikecane

      Why not? Who else has a TV with phone? We’ll see. Apple could always offer it as an option too.

      • Shock Me

        3G seems very unlikely as does a connection to the cable system, although the use case you suggest is interesting it can be accomplished for no additional cost via WiFi.

        I’d rather have the weather displayed by a device that wakes when I enter the room. You wouldn’t need a guide either because there would be no schedule just a list of your unwatched shows and a means to discover shows you haven’t yet subscribed to.

        I’d love an app store and games but they will have to ship with more storage if they hope to store many apps on the device. They’ll also need a remote and game controller for those who don’t care to spend seven times as much for an iPhone to control it.

        I’d be happy if they just added Hulu+, Vudu, and HBO GO (although my Samsung SmartTV has them built in already.) I do think games with a dual stick multi-touch controller would be a good way to deal with the fact that folks don’t have 10-foot long arms to touch their TVs.

  2. Andrew Sheppard

    Well done Mike, you’re one of the few who is starting to get it, unlike those “Analysts”:

    “1) TV will be reduced to an app”

    IF Apple introduces a TV, it will be revolutionary NOT because it looks like every TV today except with an Apple logo and SIRI on it. Instead, like the iPhone, its direction will be based on the idea that, once we have [whatever set of features] in the mix, how much hardware can we get rid of, replace by software and give additional functionality to, even things we haven’t thought of yet because independent developers will think of them?

    One hardware item that Apple might ditch is the TV tuner. When was the last time Apple made a product that didn’t work all around the world? With an internet connection, the only reason for hardware TV tuners is terrestrial TV. One possibility is that broadcast TV worldwide is invited to broadcast its signals to Apple’s server farm in North Carolina, making it available online from anywhere. All the I/O an Apple TV needs is AC power and WiFi. No buttons or switches, or at least no more than an iPad.

    Secondly, who will make the display panels of this Apple TV? Samsung, Sharp, Sony, LG etc., the people who already make Apple’s displays and who already make TV’s.

    Thirdly, who will sell these Apple TV’s? In my view, maybe not Apple but Samsung, Sharp, Sony, LG etc., who will be able to sell a display with vastly reduced wireless and connection hardware, in other words at lower cost.

    Plus, no remote. Use your mobile device ………….

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