It is a bad, bad, bad time to be in the television industry right now. Sony has been losing money on televisions for nearly a decade. Sharp is literally selling itself on the open market to survive.
Apple would be suicidal to get into the building-televisions business. But it does want more space in the living room, and the Apple TV set-top box is not hacking it. So an Apple Television will exist… sort of.
The basic problem with Apple building a television is that people tend to hang onto their TVs, and to compete and make money, we’re talking enormous displays. Essentially, Apple would be asking an enormous premium for a display with a current Apple TV and maybe a solid-state drive built into it, and when you can easily replicate that with a $60 Roku and a TV from Taiwan, or maybe a small Android computer from Kickstarter, it’s hard to argue Apple’s is better because, uh… er… iTunes?
But rumors continue to abound that Apple is building a TV, and working with cable providers to try and, well, totally destroy their business model. That last part is not going so well.
And while a fair chunk of that is probably fairy dust born out of tech analysts desperately wanting to believe, there probably is some truth to the rumors. My guess, though, is what Apple is testing is not a display, but rather an Apple chip that a TV manufacturer can put into its sets.
It’s true that this is somewhat contrary to Apple’s control-freak nature, but it makes sense. Apple gets the Apple television it’s always wanted, without having to assume the risk, and some struggling television maker gets to slap Apple’s logo on its box and use its software as a bragging point to sell televisions. Think about it: They get to charge a markup for letting Apple stick a chipset into their high-end televisions, something they were going to do anyway. Apple collects the cash, and more importantly the iTunes and app sales, and everybody wins.
Well, except the Apple fanboys who relentlessly upgrade. They’re probably screwed. Get a third job, guys.