That Apple Television Is Coming This August Alongside The iPhone Nano (And Santa)

I really wanted to do the headline without the Santa bit, but I didn’t want to be that much of an ass.

Regardless, let’s see how many people report this as fact just from the headline. In other words, let’s catch who doesn’t bother reading beyond the headline — or even the entire headline. In other words, let’s see who is an idiot that should be fired or stripped of their right to blog.

But wait, my headline does have a point beyond being a (weak) trap. My point is that if you believe an Apple Television is coming later this year, I have a nice iPhone nano to sell you. Catch my drift yet?

Earlier today, DailyTech reported that Apple would enter the television business later this year. No, they do not mean the business Apple is already in with the Apple TV, they mean the actual television business. As in, there will be a full Apple television set. DailyTech cites a source which they say is a “former Apple executive” who wanted “anonymity” but apparently didn’t mind being cited as a “former Apple executive” even though there aren’t many — and even fewer who would have any clue about this type of recent high level project. But I digress…

The key information from their source is that an Apple television is due this fall, it is meant to “blow Netflix and those other guys away”, there will be an OEM partner who actually makes the device (DailyTech predicts Samsung), and then Apple will re-brand it as their own and sell it in their stores.

Where to begin?

Admittedly, I don’t have much on this information beyond common sense. But that doesn’t mean I have no knowledge either. With that in mind, I don’t have any problem going out on a limb and saying this isn’t happening.

The Apple-made television set debate is one that has been going on for ages. There are plenty of people on both sides of why it would or would not make sense for Apple to get into this business. I’m actually on the side that believes that Apple will eventually get into this business. I think that for two simple reasons: 1) the potential (meaning mainly the living room) is huge 2) the industry (meaning mainly the television hardware business — including cable boxes) is very ripe for disruption. And even though extremely low margins dominate right now, I think Apple could figure out a way to sell their own televisions at their standard high margins.

Still, I just can’t see anyway that this happens this fall. Hell, I’d bet it would be unlikely for next fall too. Why? Because I’ve heard Apple has been pleasantly surprised by the moderate success of the newer $99 Apple TV which was released last year. It remains a hobby, but it’s becoming a more interesting hobby for them. And I think they intend to see what they can do with this product that has a relatively low barrier to entry and constitutes little risk for them.

We’re going to see some interesting things later this year when iOS 5 allows iOS apps to be mirrored to the Apple TV wirelessly. Step two is getting the apps running on the Apple TV itself. Remember, the new Apple TV also runs on iOS — there’s a reason for that. There will eventually be apps on the device.

I believe that happens before Apple tries their hand at making an actual television set. This will also buy Apple some time as component prices for the large screens needed for modern television sets continue to come down. Right now, the largest screen devices Apple makes are the 27-inch iMacs and Cinema Displays. They’re huge and beautiful — they’re bigger than my TV in college. But they’re not big enough to replace today’s living room TV sets. Apple needs to get to those sizes, and I think they will eventually, but it will take time.

The biggest problem I have with the DailyTech report is the notion that Apple would partner with an OEM to make the television sets. I have no doubt that some OEMs would kill to get Apple branding on their products. But Apple would never go for that. Apple’s entire essence is about being in complete control of their products. From concept to design to production to software to finished product, they control it all. Apple has ventured a bit outside of this strict creed a bit before. And we got the Motorola ROKR — a piece of crap.

If Apple does a television set, they’re going to make it. From concept to manufacturing to shipped product, it will be an Apple television.

The one interesting aspect of the DailyTech report is the notion that Apple is building this television to blow away Netflix. From what I’ve heard, Netflix is something that definitely intrigues Apple. As in, they may view it as perhaps the one online video model that works long-term. Obviously, the two sides have a deal to put Netflix on the Apple TV. And Netflix makes iOS apps. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple is thinking about their own solution in this space for future devices down the road.

While we’re on the topic of Apple rumors, why not briefly address a few others that have popped up today? Earlier, BGR reported that the iPhone 5 may hit in August. From what I’ve heard, this is unlikely. Apple has stated that iOS 5 is due this fall, August is not the fall, and there is no way Apple releases the iPhone 5 without iOS 5. September is looking more likely for each, as we have previously reported.

A report later this evening by Bloomberg also reiterates September and goes over much of what has already been rumored about the next generation iPhone for some time: better processor, better camera, resembles iPhone 4, etc.

The more interesting tidbit in this report is that Apple is testing a new iPad with a higher-resolution screen. Back in February, we noted that Apple was lining up for a fall “surprise” and had heard that a new version of the iPad was set to be that surprise. We haven’t heard any new information since then, but it’s still certainly a possibility. Of course, at the time, it wasn’t yet clear that the iPhone 5/iOS 5 would be pushed to the fall. As always, things are fluid. But if I were a betting man, I’d say a new iPad this fall is a better bet than an actual Apple television.