Apple dropped plans to release a 4K TV over a year ago because it couldn't find compelling ways to differentiate the product, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Apple reportedly considered including a FaceTime video chat feature that could direct cameras to the speaker at a given moment, and was looking into 4K ultra high definition display panels. The company also apparently experimented with laser-powered transparent displays in the mid-2000s before deciding that the cost and image quality compromises were too high.
New Apple TV set-top box reportedly coming at WWDC
The WSJ also corroborates reports that Apple is instead set to announce a new version of the Apple TV set-top box alongside an internet TV service at its Worldwide Developers Conference next month. The box is said to be slimmer and come with new software and an updated remote, which The New York Times recently suggested would use touch control. BuzzFeed has reported that the box will run an App Store and use Siri for voice control.
Despite long-swirling rumors and clamoring from analysts, it makes sense for Apple not to get into the business of producing TV sets. As seen by the likes of Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic, it's a risky, low-margin game with little chance to differentiate in the high end. That could be said for laptops and smartphones too, but Apple manages to set those products apart with software and design — and there's an argument to be made that the smartest TV is a dumb panel with smart boxes attached.