Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson
I think you've got to question what they could do that would be radically different. Mobile phones were a pretty low margin business until Apple came along and in truth, the PC market is pathetically low margin, yet Apple manage to make better margins that everyone else.
If they could find a way to resolve the problem of the cable companies having a stranglehold over set top boxes, they could do something special. I've thought for a long time that one of the smaller players in the TV market (I'm thinking US only here) like Dish Network could make a huge leap if they got on board with Apple and had them do their DVR/set-top box, and had that included into a TV. Much like they did with AT&T, there were a number of things that the mobile phone companies weren't doing that are now standard, because Apple pushed AT&T to make changes to their network to suit a better Apple made product.
Either way, I would love to see an Apple TV. I agree with all the arguments that it's a difficult market to get into, but at the same time, I'm looking for a new TV now and while the picture quality of most is excellent, the units themselves look shit. They're all dull black boxes, in the same way PC's used to be dull beige boxes.
Has anyone been to an electronics store lately?? There are hundreds of different products all varying in size of panels, LCD/Plasma/OLED, contrast, luminosity, darkness, sharpness, etc...
Ok I give up. With all the responses I got, I am starting to believe that many people would actually care for an Apple TV (yes the panel, not just the set top box) if only for aesthetic reasons. There is no arguing that Apple designs beautiful products but they will not market a car or fridge just because they can design a gorgeous one. It seems that some see Apple as the company that can do no wrong which is understandable since they have enjoyed a string of blockbuster products.
You make a great point about how low the margins are in the PC business however as I pointed out, Apple started in this business a while ago. I don't believe the smartphone business was low margin (ask Nokia, RIM). Let's not forget that the iPhone owes its success to the iPod. Apple worked with Motorola on that ugly ROKR phone which gave them enough knowledge to launch their own smartphone...
As for your comment about the cable companies, they have no incentive in changing the rules of the game. If Apple wants to succeed in the living room, they should bypass cable companies or render them obsolete:
1) offer content that rivals cable companies (via subscription based apps on AppleTV perhaps or more content on iTunes). A subscription model in iTunes maybe?
2) make is easy to consume such content: on-demand, instant on la Netflix
3) be serious about gaming. Not easy. It took Microsoft years and billions of dollars in lost. Apple has a lot of momentum with iOS, they can open up AppleTV and allow developers to create games designed for the TV (not via Airplay from an iOS device). Although the controller could be an iPhone/iPod/iPad as someone pointed out here...
The living room is a tough battle ground. If you look at a company like Sony which builds TVs, sells numerous gaming consoles and even possesses amazing content (a movie studio and music label) then you realize that it is hard to pull off. They have all the pieces of the puzzle and cannot even offer an integrated solution.
But then again, their management is FUBAR...