Third-generation Apple TV showing iTunes movies

Third-generation Apple TV showing iTunes movies

Just as we thought we could get to the end of the year without another flurry of Apple TV rumours we’ve unfortunately been scuppered by none other than Tim Cook himself. Last week Cook stated in a television interview for NBC that TV was an area of “intense interest” for Apple. A bit of an upgrade from just being a “hobby”.

Naturally these comments, which were admittedly accompanied with some very coy smiles from Cook, have set the rumour sites into an outbreak of excitement. Notably very few of these rumours are anything to pay much attention and lack any kind of credibility beyond “I have a friend who says his friend saw Jony Ive and Tim Cook shopping for TVs in Best Buy”.

However, today a usually accurate source has popped up with a bizarrely vague article quoting a number of sources from the supply chain about Apple’s possible movements towards an Apple TV set in 2013. The Wall Street Journal’s article which quotes “officials at some of Apple’s suppliers” makes a point of assuring the reader that whatever Apple is currently up to it’s too early to tell what exactly the company’s movements are, in fact “It isn’t a formal project yet”.

The debate over Apple’s future pathway into the TV market rests in two camps. One camp believes that Apple will takes its usual strategy and storm into market with a hardware, software and content solution. That way Apple will makes its usual margins from the hardware and deliver a seamless experience without risk of third parties getting in the way.

The other camp (of which I quite openly reside) believe that Apple is clearly best placed to release something similar to the current Apple TV, probably bigger and more advanced but still cheap enough to warrant having it in addition to a TV set. The argument being that there’s no margins available in the TV market anymore, and as Gasseé points out “[e]ighteen months later, as Moore’s Law dictates, the computer is obsolete but the screen is just fine”. There’s little improvement Apple can bring to the actual TV hardware business, other than removing buttons and simplifying interfaces.

There’s no doubt that these two camps will continue to fight it out until the day Apple does release an actual product. However Jim Dalrymple over at The Loop touches on something that Tim Cook alluded to during that NBC interview. Cook stated that Apple’s “whole role in life is to give you something you didn’t know you wanted”. Dalrymple posits that the debate isn’t about whether Apple will go all out with the hardware or not but instead on what problem Apple will aim to solve.

As Cook explained in his interview, when he turns his TV on he feels like he’s been transported back 20 or 30 years. What he was specifically referring to is unclear but the constant linear fashion of TV programming, slow and badly functioning interfaces and a wide variety of potential ways of viewing content in a myriad of complex ways might be some of the things Cook had in mind.

Could Apple’s solution be to allow access to all TV programming on-demand and on your schedule with a simple, easy to use interface that integrates all the services currently available along with movies to rent and apps to explore that enhance and compliment the viewing of TV programming?