Rumors that Apple will produce a ful television set have been around for years, but in 2011 and now 2012 they have increased a bit in frequency and intensity. Can Apple secure content deals with the networks? Will the television be enough to convince consumers to upgrade their current HDTVs? Will it even happen? We've rounded up all the important stories in this saga right here.
Mar 16, 2014
The idea of an Apple-made television set has become perhaps the most notorious rumor that has ever surrounded the company. The notion swirled for years, picked up steam due to its inclusion in Walter Isaacson's Jobs biography, and has refused to die ever since. However, a new book that focuses largely on Apple under CEO Tim Cook contains a passage that seeks to dispel this myth in a big way. According to Business Insider, ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Yukari Kane writes that Jobs vehemently denied an ambition to make a TV set in the new book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs.Read Article >
Jobs was reportedly asked about the possibility of an Apple TV set in 2010 at the company's annual meeting of its top 100 employees and executives — and his response was an immediate "no." He then elaborated, saying that "TV is a terrible business. They don't turn over and the margins suck." Of course, Jobs famously changed his mind about products, so it's entirely possible that he came up with the innovation he needed to "crack" the TV puzzle before his death. We'll just have to keep waiting to see if a real Apple TV set ever materializes.
Feb 12, 2014
Since Steve Jobs first told his biographer that he wanted to make a smarter TV, there's been no stop to rumors that Apple will produce a product that seamlessly delivers live and recorded television programming. Now, Bloomberg reports that such a device could be imminent. Two sources tell the publication that Apple is planning to introduce a new Apple TV set-top box this April, and ship it in time for Christmas. The Wall Street Journal says Apple could release the box as early as June, although it may come "several months after that."Read Article >
While details about the device are scarce, Bloomberg reports that Apple is actively negotiating with Time Warner Cable and other video partners to secure content, and that the set-top box could include a new interface and a faster processor than the current media streaming device. The Wall Street Journal says that Apple has scaled back more ambitious plans to offer full seasons of current shows, and is now asking content providers for the five most recent episodes instead, as is reportedly standard for other video-on-demand services. The WSJ also notes that the device may disable fast-forwarding on shows for three days after their air date, a move designed to protect TV channels and their advertising interests.
Nov 11, 2013Read Article >
Apple's much-rumored HDTV plans have reportedly been delayed by content deals, likely pushing a possible introduction into 2015 at the earliest, reports NPD DisplaySearch analyst Paul Gagnon. Gagnon says that sources in Apple's supply chain informed him of the delay, after previously pointing to a late 2014 introduction. Though Apple's TV plans seem to be close to materializing every so often, they've inevitably seemed to slip away again as rumors vanish and reports surface of content issues plaguing its development. Gagnon suggests that Apple's focus for next year may have switched to wearables instead, mirroring other reports that it plans to announce a smartwatch sometime next year.
Jul 2, 2013
Apple and Time Warner Cable have nearly finalized a deal that would allow TWC subscribers to stream cable programming with Apple TV, according to a Bloomberg report published today. Bloomberg claims the agreement could be made official within "a few months." Responding to the rumor, a Time Warner Cable spokesperson did little to quell speculation, saying only "We don’t have an agreement with them at this time."Read Article >
If true, the move would represent Apple's first time offering live TV on its set-top box. The company has recently been expanding content available on Apple TV, most recently (and finally) bringing HBO Go to customers — a streaming app that has long been available on competing living room devices. Apple has largely stuck to video-on-demand content with Apple TV, limiting live coverage to its own special events.
May 29, 2013
When questioned on stage at the D11 conference about Apple's current standing in the TV market, CEO Tim Cook provided some new sales figures for the company's Apple TV set-top box. "For several years we were selling a few hundred thousand," Cook said. "We've now sold over 13 million. About half of those in the last year." That would mean the company has sold approximately 6.5 million units over the last 12 months. "That business has found many many more customers," Cook said. Apple has long described its Apple TV product as a "hobby."Read Article >
As for what's in store in the months and years to come, Cook unsurprisingly remained vague. "I think many of us would agree that there's lots of things about the TV experience that can be better," he said, claiming Apple has accomplished "some of those." Pressed further on where Apple may take its TV business, Cook opted to refuse further comment, teasing only "there is a grand vision."
Dec 12, 2012
Apple is working with Sharp and Foxconn to test designs for a TV set, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Rumors of such a product have persisted for years, but this is the most solid information we've heard yet that Cupertino is looking to produce an actual television. While a Journal report from the supply chain is often the first sign that Apple is serious about a new product, it looks like things are still in the early stages, with one source saying that the TV "isn't a formal project yet." The Journal also cautions that Apple "could opt not to proceed with the device." It's not the first rumor we've heard from the paper, however: a report from around a year ago claimed that Apple was showing new interface designs to content partners.Read Article >
If Apple does proceed with the product, its long-time manufacturing partner Foxconn would seem like a good fit. Hon Hai, the parent company of Foxconn, bought a large stake in Sharp earlier this year and took control of its Sakai plant in western Japan, which is one of the most advanced LCD production facilities in the world. According to the Journal, the plant is suitable for TVs of over 60 inches in size, and Foxconn has been using it to produce similar sets for Vizio this year.
Sep 6, 2012
Although rumors of a new Apple TV box have heated up of late, a new report from Bloomberg throws cold water on the possibility. Apparently, though not surprisingly, talks with cable companies have not been going well due to a variety of issues — including whether Apple would have total control over the user interface and the exact structure of what rights deals Apple would need to strike to launch the product. Bloomberg says that the company is focused on creating a product that blends both live and recorded TV and integrates with Apple's ecosystem of products like the iPhone and iPad.Read Article >
The consumer payment structure Apple is reportedly pursuing would be a bit more complicated than usual for the company, with customers still needing to pay a monthly cable bill and possibly even leasing Apple's box from the cable company instead of buying it directly. Apparently negotiations are furthest along with Time Warner Cable, but reportedly Eddy Cue hasn't been able to push things far enough along to allow Apple to ship a new product this year. If the report bears out, it won't be shocking to learn that Apple is struggling with securing content deals with cable companies.
Aug 17, 2012
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was pitching a set-top box to cable operators, and today the publication's anonymous sources have alleged details about how such a device might work. Functionally, it sounds a bit like a DVR, except viewers wouldn't actually be recording their own shows: Apple's set-top would store entire episodes in the cloud as they're being broadcast live, allowing viewers to start watching programs from the beginning even if they're late to the broadcast. Since the Apple device would also allegedly have access (through other content deals) to the current and previous seasons of any given show, too, the box could theoretically give users access to any episode of a show on-demand, including a live episode, in a single interface.Read Article >
Visually, the Journal says that Apple is considering an iPad-like user interface for the set-top, but the iPad (and iPhone) itself may be part of the party too, as Apple also reportedly wants to allow its other products to access the same content.
Aug 16, 2012
Apple's long-rumored play for the television space seems to have changed: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company is in talks with cable operators to provide a set-top box that provides live television channels, rather than licensing content in order to offer its own streaming service. As far as the publication's anonymous sources are aware, no deals have been reached, and yet the idea has been on the table for some time: "Apple contemplated building a cable set-top box more than two years ago before it launched the latest version of its Apple TV," according to one of the Journal's sources.Read Article >
Reportedly, negotiations for a cable box have stalled because of a variety of Apple demands, including a 30 percent cut on "certain transactions" and the right to an exclusive on providing IP technology of some sort. It's not clear whether that refers to straight-up IPTV service (whereby Apple would provide content over an internet connection) or IP control, where devices could communicate with the box over a network rather than using dumb infrared commands. Dish presently allows Google TV boxes to communicate with its DVRs using IP control, allowing users to more directly control content and schedule recordings. Before he passed away, Steve Jobs told his biographer that he'd dreamt up "the simplest user interface you could imagine" for an integrated smart TV.
May 30, 2012
Steve Jobs famously called the Apple TV a "hobby," but his successor Tim Cook seems to be slowly turning that ship around. At the D10 conference this evening, he said that the Apple TV is "an area of intense interest for us." While Cook wouldn't answer a direct question about whether the company is building a full television set, he seemed to hint strongly that Apple's interest is an active one:Read Article >
I think most people, maybe not all, but many people would say this is an area in their life they’re not really pleased with. You know, they might not be pleased with many things about it. The whole TV experience. So, it’s an interesting area, so we’ll have to see what we do.According to Cook, the Apple TV set-top box has actually seen dramatically increased interest this year, selling 2.7 million in just the first few months of the year, compared to 3 million sales for the entire last year. Apple's CEO was clear that the existing Apple TV isn't a compelling business yet, though. "It's not a fifth leg of the stool."
May 14, 2012
Last week, China Daily reported that Foxconn CEO Terry Gou told the publication his company was making plans to produce the rumored Apple iTV set. There was no direct quote from Gou in the article itself, so the whole story seemed open to some interpretation or mis-translation. Now, Foxconn has indeed confirmed that CEO Terry Gou is not confirming or even speculating on future Apple products, including the Apple TV. The Next Web is reporting that Foxconn said last week's reports are "not accurate" and that it is company policy "not to comment on any customers or their products." This doesn't come as a huge surprise — as we speculated last week, it would be odd for Foxconn's CEO to tip the hand of one of its biggest partners.Read Article >
Foxconn also noted that "is always prepared to meet the manufacturing needs of customers should they determine that they wish to work with Foxconn in the production of any of their products" — again, not exactly a surprise, but Gou was likely referring to his company's ability to do the job, not that it was actually getting ready to produce Apple TVs. We're reaching out to Foxconn for more details, and will update with any other news we hear.
May 11, 2012Read Article >
We're well into 2012, and the mythical Apple TV remains nothing more than a rumor — but Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou might have tipped Apple's hand at a Shanghai news conference to discuss Foxconn's new headquarters. China Daily is reporting that Gou said Foxconn is "making preparations for iTV," though development or manufacturing has yet to begin. As China Daily didn't offer a direct quote from Gou, we're guessing he might have meant that his company is ramping up to be ready if Apple wants to build a TV — not that it's a sure thing Foxconn will be building an Apple TV. It certainly would be a strange move for Gou to purposefully leak details on such a major new product to the press — given the amount of business Apple does with Foxconn, we're sure Gou doesn't want to damage that relationship.
Apr 27, 2012
Apple TV is already home to a number of third-party video streaming services: Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, and a handful of sports-related "channels" like NBA, NHL, and MLB.com. According to Reuters, the folks in Cupertino are in talks with Epix to put its movie service on its current set-top box and "upcoming devices that stream content." That's strong wording from Reuters, and the article goes on to make multiple, less-subtle references to the long-rumored Apple "iTV" smart television.Read Article >
The talks are said to be in the "preliminary stages," and what makes it complicated is that Epix — backed by major studios Lions Gate, MGM, and Paramount Pictures — has an agreement with Netflix that gives that video service exclusive rights to Epix content reportedly until September of this year. In other words, it would be a while before anything comes of this, and in the meantime, you can already watch Epix content on Apple TV via the Netflix app. So it goes.
Mar 15, 2012
After endless speculation and debate, Apple's latest event came and went with nary a mention of a Cupertino-made television set. But Apple's little set-top box did get a refresh, bringing some oft-requested upgrades and improvements to the $99 device. The 2012 Apple TV has a new interface, a new A5 SoC, the ability to (finally) stream movies you've purchased through iTunes, 1080p movie streaming through iTunes and Netflix, and more. It's also as deeply integrated with Netflix as ever, and AirPlay is getting better all the time. The Apple TV also holds a lot of clues for what Apple's trying to do in the TV space, whether or not it ever decides to build an actual television.Read Article >
The new Apple TV feels more like a refresh rather than a leap ahead, but Apple's clearly pushing on with its television strategy. So will the new version nudge out the set-top competition and earn a spot in your home theater stack? Is this model differentiated enough from the last iteration to warrant another $99 from last year’s buyers? And more importantly, is this really the way forward for media consumption on your biggest screen? Read on to find out.
Mar 12, 2012
It's been rumored for a while that Apple is struggling to land content deals for its much-anticipated "true" entry into the TV business, and CBS's CEO Les Moonves has offered some insight on why that might be. Speaking at the UCLA Entertainment Symposium in a conference attended by the Hollywood Reporter, Moonves said he turned down Steve Jobs personally over the offer of making CBS shows part of a subscription-based content package.Read Article >
What does Moonves know that Jobs didn't? He cited fears over disrupting the network's existing revenue streams, an assessment with which Jobs predictably disagreed. This isn't the first time CBS has said it turned down an approach from Apple, but last we heard the reason was a dispute over advertising revenue — we're not sure if Moonves is referring to the same conversation here. CBS is similarly reluctant to allow its shows on Hulu, but has made content available on Netflix and Amazon for upfront licensing fees. While Moonves certainly sounds confident in his knowledge of the TV industry, these latest comments suggest that he's only interested in making money the way he knows how.
Mar 2, 2012
This follows on the heels of reports of new Apple TV SKUs appearing in Best Buy databases, as well as news this week that Apple has been forging ahead with plans to partner on new TV services. According to the New York Post, Apple's VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue is in deep talks with content-creators and distributors trying to hammer out a deal that will please all sides. Those deals are rumored to be announced around the 2012 holiday season.Read Article >
The idea that a new Apple TV will be available on day of Apple's San Francisco event lines up with what 9to5 Mac was recently reporting, and gels nicely with rumors we've heard that the iPad 3 (or iPad HD, depending on who you talk to) will also be made available not long after its introduction. Historically Apple has shortened the length of time to availability as a product line matures, and there's no reason to think that won't be the case here.
Mar 2, 2012
We've been hearing for months now that Apple has been trying to wrangle content deals for a streaming TV service, and the New York Post has a new report that claims Cupertino is hoping to launch such a service this holiday season — despite gaining little traction with content providers. According to the Post, Apple's senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has been leading the negotiations, with the intent of using apps — presumably on the Apple TV and on iOS devices — as the mechanism for delivery. Apple's would-be partners have allegedly proven resistant to the company's terms, which are said to have Apple determining what programming would be available and at what price. The Post's sources were not specific on whether Apple wants to provide a grouped selection of apps in a subscription-based model, or to simply offer single apps on their own.Read Article >
The Post alleges that Apple attempted a similar move in 2009, but was rebuffed at that time because it wanted to share in ad revenue — something that does line up with recent statements made by CBS CEO Les Moonves. According to the paper's unnamed sources, Apple has been fighting the battle on multiple fronts, pitching cable operators to replace their current crop of set-top boxes with Apple-designed products that could provide an enhanced user experience, as well as talking to the likes of AT&T and Verizon, who offer their own U-Verse and FiOS television services, respectively.
Feb 14, 2012
Tim Cook is speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference today, and he was pretty candid when asked about the living room and Apple TV: he said that the Apple TV is a "hobby" because the company knows the business isn't as big as the Mac or iOS devices, but that "Apple doesn't do hobbies as a general rule." Cook followed up by saying he "can't live without" his Apple TV, and that he's "always thought there was something there, and that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling that string, we might find something larger."Read Article >
What might Apple find? Cook didn't say, but he closed by saying that Apple needs "something that could go more main market for [the Apple TV] to be a serious category." That's certainly nothing definite, but it sure sounds like Apple's been thinking about how to turn the living room from a hobby into a real business.
Feb 13, 2012
ITV has denied that there is any truth in reports that it has approached Apple to warn it off using the ITV name. The Telegraph suggested this morning that British television network ITV's CEO Adam Crozier had written a letter to Apple regarding the use of the name iTV in its products, which reflects a number of recent rumors regarding a forthcoming Apple-branded TV.Read Article >
In a statement to The Verge, an ITV spokesperson said that, "The Telegraph's piece is entirely speculative, and there has been no recent dialogue between ITV and Apple. ITV has no further comment on the matter."
Feb 5, 2012
Slightly stranger, though, is that Best Buy says it'll have an "iSight" camera — a brand Apple hasn't actively used in some time for its webcams — and that it'll be ready for Skype, which probably isn't the way Cupertino would want to position the TV's video call capabilities with FaceTime on deck. Best Buy pegs the set at 42 inches and slaps a $1,499 price tag on it, a fairly hefty premium over models from top tier manufacturers in the same size class; even many 46-inch models retail for less.Read Article >
Though we were originally sent a screen shot of the survey from an anonymous tipster, we've been able to verify that the survey does exist. Furthermore, it's administered by Confirmit, a Norwegian research firm known to count Best Buy as a client, so that lends a sense of legitimacy. A larger question remains, though: is Best Buy speaking with knowledge, or is it just riffing to get a sense of customer interest in a purely theoretical Apple television? Our guess is that it's nothing more than a shot on the dark, particularly considering the iSight and Skype mentions. Other questions in the survey gauge interest in a $10 home delivery service, scheduled appointments with Best Buy Mobile agents, and discounts on home theater bundles — not as interesting, granted, but far more "real" than the iTV at this point.
Jan 5, 2012
While rumors over a true Apple TV have swirled for literally years, they've kicked into high gear ever since Walter Issacson quoted Steve Jobs in his biography as saying he'd "finally cracked" the difficulties behind entering the market. It's widely assumed that in order to successfully launch a television, Apple would need a set of game-changing content deals in order to make it a compelling enough product to convince consumers to upgrade — especially given the longer upgrade cycles typical in the TV market.Read Article >
We've seen plenty of rumors that Apple was working on negotiating such deals, and now USA Today has added to the pile. Citing one anonymous Apple employee and two television industry sources, the paper reports that Apple has had "problems" securing the deals and suggested that the goal is to offer à la carte shows from first-tier networks.
Dec 27, 2011
Rumors of an Apple television have resurfaced with supply chain sources telling DigiTimes that they're starting to prepare components for 32- and 37-inch "iTV" sets launching in Q2 or Q3 of 2012. According to the Taiwanese publication, suppliers will begin preparing materials in Q1 to prepare for the mid-year production ramp up.Read Article >
The mythical Apple television has been rumored for years, but picked up steam after Steve Jobs was quoted in Walter Isaacson's biography saying that he'd "finally cracked it." The Wall Street Journal recently weighed in with sources claiming that media executives were being briefed on a new Apple TV that can stream "shows, movies, and other content." The WSJ also reported on Apple's multi-million dollar investment in a Sharp plant that will manufacture LCD panels for the next generation iPhone and iPad, and the iTV too according to analysts.
Dec 19, 2011Read Article >
There's been endless speculation on an Apple TV after Jobs was quoted in Walter Isaacson's biography that he'd "finally cracked it." Note, though, that The Wall Street Journal suggests nearly all plausible avenues Apple would pursue if it were working on a television service or device: it could be a TV, it might be a way for mobile devices to stream content without a set-top box, or it may be something that already works with current Apple technology. Content could come from television-service providers, or it may be licensed directly from media companies in the form of a subscription-service. While it's increasingly clear that Apple is working on something and feeling out content partnerships, there's no indication whether it's at the beginning or end of the process of bringing a TV to market, despite the assumption that it's close.
Nov 24, 2011
The bond between Sharp and Apple had been rumored ever since December when Nikkei business daily reported that the two companies would spend $1.2 billion to expand plant capacity, with Apple providing most of that investment.Read Article >
The WSJ report is backed by a separate research note from analyst Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co, based upon a recent visit to Japan and conversations with manufacturing execs. The analyst goes even further though, claiming that the relationship might yield the elusive Apple TV by mid 2012 at the earliest, built around a modified amorphous TFT display. Misek claims that the "iTV," as he calls it, will likely begin ramping up for manufacturing as early as February.