Will the Apple Television Have Any Room to Be Special?

If you were following the Consumer Electronics Show last week, you know that several TV makers showed off some of the most exciting technologies we've seen yet. LG offered up an ultra-thin OLED TV that, years ago, seemed at least a decade away. The company followed that up with the announcement of its first 4K resolution TV. If you haven't heard of 4K resolution, it's a technology that delivers — are you ready for this? — four times the resolution found in 1080p.

But it wasn't just LG. Vizio showed off an ultra-widescreen set that many film buffs were happy to see, and the sheer number of Smart TVs featuring built-in apps, integration with DVRs, and countless other features was dizzying. There were even the giant televisions on display for those who have large rooms and want to impress friends.

Check our all the CES 2012 Smart TVs here

All that has made me wonder: how will Apple, a company that is reportedly working on a new television to best them all, actually achieve its goal of changing customer perceptions about TVs?

The way I see it, just about every company is providing what Apple will reportedly offer in its own HDTVs. We already have extremely well-designed sets, thin televisions that look like a picture frame hanging on the wall, and TVs featuring all the apps you would seemingly want. What's more, they all come in at prices that, if history is to be our guide, Apple likely won't even come close to matching.

Furthermore, I just don't see any technologies out there that Apple could stake claim to. If the company offers up an OLED set, LG will respond with one of its own. If it only sells 4K televisions, the competition will have already put some out.

[aquote]The TV market might be one place Apple really was too late to the game[/aquote]

Unfortunately for Apple, the television market might be one place where it really was too late to the game.

Looking back, being late to the game is something that Apple hasn't suffered all that often. In fact, its most successful products, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad, helped set off entire new product ideas. In the television space, however, there's little chance of the iPhone maker having a chance to do that.

Of course, there will undoubtedly be Apple apologists that disagree. They'll argue that Apple's integration of the App Store and iCloud will be enough for the company to attract customers away from competing sets. They'll also say that Apple's branding always wins out.

Admittedly, it's hard to argue with that. And even if Apple launches a television with technologies we've already seen, there's a good chance the set will still sell well.

But I think it's time we all acknowledge that Apple isn't the only company in the industry that has, or is willing to, take chances. Some of the top TV vendors in the world are quite Apple-like in their product presentations. And this year, I think we're going to see that quite clearly.

Watch out, Apple. You might just have more TV competition than you think.