The case against a standalone Apple TV

18 Apr 2011

I’ll admit, I’ve always liked the idea of Apple TV, as a “media extender” it serves a useful purpose. In recent weeks however, several analysts (including Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray) have predicted that it would make sense for Apple to go beyond this and build its own TV. There’s no way for me to respond to this other than by stating the following:

I hate this idea.

Consider for a moment that for the majority of people, the TV is a central part of their home entertainment setup. If Apple really views the Apple TV as an “iPod for the living room” (as evidenced by the product’s location on its website – you get to it through the iPod section of the navigation), then the possibility exists that a hypothetical Apple television would be updated with the same frequency – usually once a year. No one is going to go through the hassle of replacing the main component of a home entertainment setup on a yearly basis, it just isn’t done. Sure, new TV’s get announced rather frequently, but the cost involved in upgrading is such that those who do choose to buy are likely replacing a product that has been in use for several years.

Remember that Apple TV (in its current state) is an iOS device. How do they deal with updates if it eventually becomes a full–fledged TV? I can think of no better way to piss off a customer than to tell them that the 50” flat panel that they bought 2 years ago is obsolete. For this to work, Apple needs to realize that the model for updating a phone (or media player) is fundamentally different than for a TV and won’t work if they approach it in the same way.