Why Apple’s iTV Won’t be a TV

For the last several years, there have been many rumors that Apple is working on a device for the living room that would reinvent the television viewing experience much the same way they redefined the smart phone with the iPhone.  For believers, comments by Tim Cook in November 2012 all but confirm this.  Johnny Ive has made similarly vague but apparently revealing comments.  And any number of anonymous sources have chimed in, offering various specs and features across a spectrum of incredibly vague (it will run on electricity) to quite specific (it will use the A5 chip).  The one thing almost all of the rumors have in common is that the iTV will actually be a TV display as opposed to a separate box a la the existing Apple TV.

There may be a day when that makes sense, but there are two main reasons why that day is not now or any time soon.  As much as it may be hopeful to look at Apple’s success transforming the Smartphone market, the television market (“television” as a distribution method) is wholly different with completely different factors.

Prior to the release of the iPhone in 2007, Apple only had to convince one market partner, AT&T,  that they had created a great, if not revolutionary, product.  All phones can call other phones (a call to a Verizon customer requires no extra steps and is just as easy as calling someone on AT&T), so it’s wasn’t necessary for Apple to get Verizon, T-Mobile, etc. on board as well. This is markedly different from television, where signing an agreement with CBS and HBO doesn’t mean much if every other network else isn’t willing to play ball.  Result: limited content and ecosystem, similar to so many other lukewarm TV offerings. Read more…

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