The Apple Television has been rumored for a long, long time. We’ve heard that the television will come in multiple sizes, probably be priced a bit higher than the average set on the market, and integrate iCloud. Better yet, it’ll support apps, allowing for more functionality across the board.
The most talk surrounding the television cropped up last year when Walter Isaacson published his Steve Jobs biography. In that, Jobs noted that he believed that he had finally “cracked” the code for a television that would best all others in the marketplace. Analysts, ready to predict Apple’s plans, performed a host of supply chain checks to find out if Apple was in fact working on a television. Nearly universally, they said that it indeed was.
Over the last several months, however, we’ve heard precious little about an Apple television. Either the set never existed in the first place, or Apple has closed ranks and is keeping its plans extremely secretive. It’s as if the television, which was once so much a part of our lives in the technology world, is now a ghostly product that might or might not exist.
That is, of course, unless you read through the lines on what Tim Cook recently said in an interview with Brian Williams of NBC. He stopped short of actually saying that Apple was working on a television, but his admission that the industry is one that’s awfully intriguing to the company makes me believe that there is in fact a set on the way. Exactly when it will launch, however, remains to be seen.
That launch date could be extremely important to Apple’s television’s success rate.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, a host of television vendors are expected to show off Ultra HD televisions – sets that are running the technology formerly known as 4K. Although those televisions won’t be ready for the average consumer in 2013, it’s a sign that they’re going to be hitting more consumer-friendly price points sooner than later.
Realizing that, Apple, a company that prides itself on being ahead of the curve, will need to decide if it wants to stick with 1080p HD or go with Ultra HD. The smart move, of course, is to go with 1080p until Ultra HD pricing comes down. However, the clock is ticking. Ultra HD might be several years away from hitting consumer-friendly prices, but the later Apple launches its television, the sooner it might become obsolete.
Meanwhile, we can’t forget the growing importance of apps in the mobile space. At CES, companies like Samsung and LG are likely going to deliver televisions with boatloads of bundled applications. If one of them includes access to a broader application store than what’s already available, it could once again make Apple look late to the game.
I guess what I’m trying to say is time is of the essence if Apple finally launches its own television. It’s nice to be Apple and have everyone interested in your products, but if you wait too long to launch a supposed “groundbreaking” device, you might actually be stepped over.
And Apple cannot forget that.
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear