Rumors begin to fly fast and furious in the run up to any expected Apple product announcement. Everyone on this planet expects Apple to introduce a new iPhone soon, so it’s logical to assume there’ll be an iPad mini announcement in time for holiday shopping.
What will the newest iPhone be called? How about iPhone 5? Or, plain old new iPhone. Either way, lines are guaranteed to be long at Apple Stores around the world.
What of the iPad mini? Will it be called mini? I don’t think so. It’s likely that this iPad will be extremely light (when compared to the iPad with Retina display), so I’m going with iPad Air.
What about Apple’s already infamous television. The more I look at the broadcast and content marketplace, I’m willing to bet that an Apple-branded television is still a year or two away from launch.
It’s far more likely that Apple is working on the mother of all upgrades to the diminutive AppleTV, the sleeper device with the Samsung inspired rectangles in a hockey puck design.
Apple is known to be in talks with major content producers, broadcast networks, cable systems, and cable networks, all of which have a hand in the TV revenue pie. That Balkanized industry makes it difficult for an Apple television or an AppleTV to gain much traction.
If Apple is trying to skate to where the hockey puck will be, what are they after? What do television watchers ultimately want?
Everything on demand. Forget using a DVR. It’s a useful device, but in a world where all content is available for streaming anytime, who needs a DVR? Besides, all a DVR is good for is compressing an hour long TV show down to 40-minutes as users skip over the commercials, and time shifting playback.
The cable companies don’t care much about that problem (which is why they rent you DVRs), but networks, content producers, and advertisers care deeply about the DVR problem.
How about a little conjecture?
What if Apple were to build the world’s largest streaming video delivery system? It’s Kate’s famous What If? time.
What if Apple’s system had access to all video content in the country– broadcast networks, cable networks, even network news and sports, and could make it available to every cable TV company in the country?
And, all that content would be streamed from Apple’s data centers through the company’s new $299 AppleTV. Cable TV companies would get their cut of the pie. So would broadcast networks. So would cable TV networks. An AppleTV would reduce cable TV company costs. Advertisers would get their ads displayed on every program.
You and I would get to see what we want to watch, when we want to watch it. What’s not to like? Other than being forced to watch TV commercials.
There are issues. And it has to do with the Balkanization of the television industry (especially in the U.S.). It’s highly fragmented. All the players get a slice of the revenue pie so everyone needs to get paid. There’s probably some fear among the major players of letting Apple anywhere near their turf (since Apple turned the cell phone carriers into dumb wireless pipe companies).
The smart content providers and networks are already moving their content into internet distribution, and some even onto AppleTV. Apple needed a big partner to shake up the cell phone industry. That partner was AT&T. Apple will need even more partners to shake up the television industry.
If it can be done, it’s likely that Apple can do it. If it can be done.