Apple's 'next big thing' may be iDevice TV remote, not standalone HDTV

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
While speculation of an Apple-built HDTV has cooled somewhat amid the launch of the iPhone 5 and expected "iPad mini," one analyst says the company's next market disruptor is already here, and it's not a TV.

Remote
Source: Apple


In a research note shared with AppleInsider, Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes believes TV remotes, not TVs themselves, may be key to Apple's "next big thing." Apple has more control to expand the total addressable market (TAM) for its mobile products, like the iPhone and iPad, than its competitors, and therefore has the ability to offer innovative software and hardware features at accessible prices.

"We feel one of the best ways to increase the iOS device TAM is by expanding use cases so that every home could use an iOS device as a TV remote," Reitzes writes.

For the near term, Reitzes believes the iPad is the most ripe for TAM expansion, though Apple "needs to make this product better through software - and allow it to control more tasks in your life." The iPad has already enjoyed major success in taking over 60 percent of the tablet market while canibalizing traditional PC sales.

Furthering speculation of the so-called "iPad mini," the analyst notes the much-rumored tablet's smaller 7.85-inch format could be one of the first to expand TAM by becoming a TV remote.

"We believe the 7? screen on iPad mini could be used for traditional content consumption such as reading books or watching movies, but Apple may have bigger plans for this device over time," Reitzes says. "We believe the big secret about Apple?s TV strategy is not the TV itself ? it?s about selling the remotes."

Currently, the remote control capabilites of an iOS device are limited to connected Apple hardware, like the Apple TV or streaming multimedia content wirelessly using AirPlay. A future Apple TV streamer paired with a more functional iPad could be the first steps toward Apple's domination of the living room.

"With iCloud, we don?t see any reason why Apple wouldn?t eventually allow an iPad to be an interface for the TV ? to perform basic computing tasks with a virtual keyboard like checking emails and calendars, surfing websites, editing your PhotoStream and even chat with iMessage," the analyst notes.

Apple TV


Extending the idea into the future, the iPad could one day be used as a "central command" for the digital home, an idea already being tested by home automation companies. Usually, central control of common household items, like lights, HVAC units and TVs, is cost-prohibitive and requires a multitude of bridging devices.

The analyst goes on to say that Apple can easily add features and capabilities to its iPhone, iPod and iPad product lines through software updates, making the devices more desirable, thus driving TAM expansion. An example of a "TAM expander" could be the integration of NFC technology and fingerprint-based security being into the iPhone, a theory that has been floated numerous times since Apple purchased fingerprint sensor maker AuthenTec in July.

As for Apple's rumored HDTV, Reitzes expects the product to materialize sometime in the future, with the caveat that it won't do so until the company is able to negotiate amicable licensing terms with content providers.

In August, Apple was rumored to be shopping around a set-top cable box with cloud-based DVR capabilities to major cable companies, though the discussions are reportedly ongoing and an agreement is not expected to arrive until at least 2013.

Reitzes reiterates an "overweight" rating for AAPL stock, with a price target of $810.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    That'd be great. A 1:1 touchscreen method of interacting with the Apple TV is what we need and what Remote doesn't provide right now.


     


    I mean this is neat and all…


     



     


    But when the phone is 16:9, just show us what we see on the TV and let us touch it directly!


     


    And even when it isn't, the grid on the screen can still be shown.

  • Reply 2 of 42
    cashxxcashxx Posts: 113member
    I said this years ago when iOS came out. With the touch interface the expansion is almost unlimited. Remotes, etc. I think Apple even has patents on some remote designs.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,941member
    Using a touch screen device as a remote just sucks, plan an simple. Why, because it requires you to take your eyes off the TV to use. You can not just feel for the buttons to switch a channel or turn up or down the volume. I have been playing with various software on the IOS which allow you to control various home entertainment systems and I find myself going right back to my every day remote. It nice to use the touch screen to get things turned on and setup, but beyond this it is not easy to use.
  • Reply 4 of 42
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    Anyone who's actually used an iDevice for a remote knows that this is BS. It's handy if you have it in your hand, but it DOESN'T WORK as a remote control replacement. The reason being that you have to wake the device up (and wait three to five seconds) before EVERY use.

    You can't just change the volume, you have to pick up the device, wake it up, wait for it to connect, then adjust the volume. If you leave it on the coffee table for 30 seconds, it goes to sleep again and you have to go through the whole thing all over again when you change the volume next time (or do anything at all).
  • Reply 5 of 42
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

    Why, because it requires you to take your eyes off the TV to use.


     


    Siri.


     


    And so frigging what you're not glued to the television every femtosecond? Is that the worst thing in the world? Have you seen some of these physical remotes? You're not going to be able to know where everything is by memory, regardless of how you try.


     


    Here's the thing, part of the suck of television is the remote. Part is the UI. But let Apple have control of both and you won't need to look at the screen of your touchscreen remote to know how to navigate the UI.

  • Reply 6 of 42
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    So we have another analyst pulling out of thin air what he thinks Apple's next big thing is. First it was a TV set, then a set to box, now it's a TV remote. It drives me crazy that everytime aWall Street analyst comes up with a thought the Apple rumor sites post it as news.
  • Reply 7 of 42
    irelandireland Posts: 17,749member
    This analyst isn't qualified to be called a technology analyst.
  • Reply 8 of 42

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post



    Using a touch screen device as a remote just sucks, plan an simple. Why, because it requires you to take your eyes off the TV to use. You can not just feel for the buttons to switch a channel or turn up or down the volume. I have been playing with various software on the IOS which allow you to control various home entertainment systems and I find myself going right back to my every day remote. It nice to use the touch screen to get things turned on and setup, but beyond this it is not easy to use.


    That's a bit of a ridiculous assertion. Almost everyone I know sneaks a glance at the physical buttons on the remote before pressing the buttons. I think you're way overstating the importance taking your off the TV for a nanosecond.

  • Reply 9 of 42
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    There's an app for that. Are there not TV remotes already available as apps?

    Yawn...
    /
    /
  • Reply 10 of 42
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    One of the things I like best about how Apple has affected my TV viewing.... their remote is really tiny! I don%u2019t think I could use an iPad Mini as a remote. Even my iPhone feels huge compared to those nice tiny Apple Remotes.

    (But those particular remotes' days are numbered: IR will linger for a while, but isn%u2019t the future.)
  • Reply 11 of 42
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,476member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Anyone who's actually used an iDevice for a remote knows that this is BS. It's handy if you have it in your hand, but it DOESN'T WORK as a remote control replacement. The reason being that you have to wake the device up (and wait three to five seconds) before EVERY use.
    You can't just change the volume, you have to pick up the device, wake it up, wait for it to connect, then adjust the volume. If you leave it on the coffee table for 30 seconds, it goes to sleep again and you have to go through the whole thing all over again when you change the volume next time (or do anything at all).

    I use a dedicated iPad and iRule and don't have these issues. Global Cache' ITACH wifi to IR or serial and Ethernet (PoE options) to IR or serial even allow multiple devices to connect and control.
  • Reply 12 of 42
    That's a bit of a ridiculous assertion. Almost everyone I know sneaks a glance at the physical buttons on the remote before pressing the buttons. I think you're way overstating the importance taking your off the TV for a nanosecond.

    Yes, that half a second of taking your eyes off the screen isn't going to kill you. But, there's a certain ease of use to tactile buttons. You may not know where all the buttons are on the remote, but the most used ones always have a distinct feel (e.g. Ch Up, Ch Down, Volume, Cross-pad for scrolling in guides). And once you become accustom to your own remote, you don't even need to look to hit these common buttons. Just like the Home button, or the volume rocker on your iDevice. I know I don't have to look down, or on the side to hit these buttons... I know the general vicinity of them, and use sense of touch to get the rest of the way. This is the same principle that prevents touch screens from being good for serious or "hardcore" gaming. You need those tactile buttons for easier use.

    Now, if they can come up with a slick interface for scrolling and browsing a media library, etc. for the AppleTV or whatever HTPC device, that would be awesome. I have used a few for XBMC on the iPad and they're just OK. But I would have no doubt Apple can come up with a great UI for that.
  • Reply 13 of 42
    joelsaltjoelsalt Posts: 827member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MarquisMark View Post





    Yes, that half a second of taking your eyes off the screen isn't going to kill you. But, there's a certain ease of use to tactile buttons. You may not know where all the buttons are on the remote, but the most used ones always have a distinct feel (e.g. Ch Up, Ch Down, Volume, Cross-pad for scrolling in guides). And once you become accustom to your own remote, you don't even need to look to hit these common buttons. Just like the Home button, or the volume rocker on your iDevice. I know I don't have to look down, or on the side to hit these buttons... I know the general vicinity of them, and use sense of touch to get the rest of the way. This is the same principle that prevents touch screens from being good for serious or "hardcore" gaming. You need those tactile buttons for easier use.

    Now, if they can come up with a slick interface for scrolling and browsing a media library, etc. for the AppleTV or whatever HTPC device, that would be awesome. I have used a few for XBMC on the iPad and they're just OK. But I would have no doubt Apple can come up with a great UI for that.


    Nothing simple multi-touch features couldn't emulate.  Swipe up for channel change up, swipe two fingers for "page-up", etc. - but of course the whole UI could potentially be so different that it doesn't require the same commands as the standard cable-box UI does.

  • Reply 14 of 42
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,941member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    That's a bit of a ridiculous assertion. Almost everyone I know sneaks a glance at the physical buttons on the remote before pressing the buttons. I think you're way overstating the importance taking your off the TV for a nanosecond.



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Siri.


     


    And so frigging what you're not glued to the television every femtosecond? Is that the worst thing in the world? Have you seen some of these physical remotes? You're not going to be able to know where everything is by memory, regardless of how you try.


     


    Here's the thing, part of the suck of television is the remote. Part is the UI. But let Apple have control of both and you won't need to look at the screen of your touchscreen remote to know how to navigate the UI.



     


    Unless you spent time using a touch screen remote you will not understand. Using a physical remote and a basic one not one they can do everything under the sun, only required Rote Memory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rote_learning to use which Apple has always relayed on with the design of the user interface.


     


    So yes I can easily pick up my remote and press the correct button every time and change channel and volume without ever looking at, why because it is easy and also I do not look like fool talking to my TV or remote for that fact. Yeah I know you lonely types spend lots of time alone so talking to your TV is okay. But why talk when you can press one button and do the same thing far faster.


     


    Anyway, touch screen remote are nice for doing a serious of command when getting your system set up, but using them all the time is not easy or intuitive. It requires to you to look at them and all the time no rote memory skills can be employed due to lack of a reference point. Also when in a dark room watch a movie pick up a touch screen remote and have your face all lite up by the back light and takes a few moments as your eyes adjust to figure out which part of the displace you need to touch.


     


    I have been playing with various remotes for years and I have software on my iPad that controls my entire theater room system including the lighting and such, it nice to get it set up, but beyond that I use the basic remote since it does not required seeing the buttons to change things or hit pause or play during a bathroom break.


     


    The thing you have to ask when watching Video on a TV what do you spend most of your time doing and there are plenty of studies out there on this and the majority of the people are changing channels and messing with the volume so those are the primary function of a remote it does 90% of what you need most of the time.

  • Reply 15 of 42

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Extending the idea into the future, the iPad could one day be used as a "central command" for the digital home, an idea already being tested by home automation companies. Usually, central control of common household items, like lights, HVAC units and TVs, is cost-prohibitive and requires a multitude of bridging devices.


     


    Am I missing something?  I've been using my iPhone as a "central command" for my home for two years:  most lights, HVAC, gate, garage door, etc.  I use Insteon devices and the MobiLinc app.  This isn't a future prediction, this is old news.  


     


    Maybe I need a job as an analyst.  I hereby predict that someday we'll be able to use our phones to throw disgruntled birds at architecturally crafty pigs.  

  • Reply 16 of 42

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post



    Anyone who's actually used an iDevice for a remote knows that this is BS. It's handy if you have it in your hand, but it DOESN'T WORK as a remote control replacement. The reason being that you have to wake the device up (and wait three to five seconds) before EVERY use.

    You can't just change the volume, you have to pick up the device, wake it up, wait for it to connect, then adjust the volume. If you leave it on the coffee table for 30 seconds, it goes to sleep again and you have to go through the whole thing all over again when you change the volume next time (or do anything at all).


    Well, boo effin' hoo!  In my day you'd have to walk allll the way over to the TV and clunk through all three local channels. THEN you'd have to go outside in the rain, snow, or whatever and turn the antenna mast in the direction of the station while someone else yells through the window about the quality of the signal. And don't get me started about the fine tuner adjustment too.


     


    Yeah, back then men just didn't flip through a danged tiny remote, they WORKED for their entertainment!

  • Reply 17 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,994member


    My son and I have used the FiOS Remote app on his Nexus to control our cabled TV. I was pretty surprised to find that the cablebox seems to respond faster to the smartphone app input than the standard wand remote, but with that said it's not worth the time and effort to either of us for the most part.


     


    I know the primary buttons on the standard remote by feel, never having to glance at it to see the show schedules, adjust the volume, change the channel, search on-demand content or view recorded programs.  It's simply faster and more convenient to me to have physical buttons with unique shapes for various feature calls. The only time I need to actually look at the remote is for some of the seldom-used features.


     


    Using the Nexus as a remote has a certain attraction, but easier to use isn't one of them.

  • Reply 18 of 42
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    That's a bit of a ridiculous assertion. Almost everyone I know sneaks a glance at the physical buttons on the remote before pressing the buttons. I think you're way overstating the importance taking your off the TV for a nanosecond.



    Put me in the camp of I also need button or better visual ques. At least for primary functionality.


     


    Even the apple tv remote has 3 buttons(actually more because of the directional and combinations)


     


    IMO - I like the 'overlay concept'... hate to say it... google may be on to something.

  • Reply 19 of 42
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,476member
    darkrail wrote: »
    Am I missing something?  I've been using my iPhone as a "central command" for my home for two years:  most lights, HVAC, gate, garage door, etc.  I use Insteon devices and the MobiLinc app.  This isn't a future prediction, this is old news.  

    Maybe I need a job as an analyst.  I hereby predict that someday we'll be able to use our phones to throw disgruntled birds at architecturally crafty pigs.  

    He shoulda added, "Control your next-gen Ironman suit."
  • Reply 20 of 42

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post



    Using a touch screen device as a remote just sucks, plan an simple. Why, because it requires you to take your eyes off the TV to use. You can not just feel for the buttons to switch a channel or turn up or down the volume. I have been playing with various software on the IOS which allow you to control various home entertainment systems and I find myself going right back to my every day remote. It nice to use the touch screen to get things turned on and setup, but beyond this it is not easy to use.


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    That'd be great. A 1:1 touchscreen method of interacting with the Apple TV is what we need and what Remote doesn't provide right now.


     


    I mean this is neat and all…


     


    But when the phone is 16:9, just show us what we see on the TV and let us touch it directly!


     


    And even when it isn't, the grid on the screen can still be shown.



     


    The reason why this interface works so well is that you don't have to look at the device to control the TV. You use the device to navigate what's on the TV and the position of the only controls you need (select: normal touch, back: low touch) are incredibly easy to feel without looking on the iPhone. Though if I'm going to play something from my iTunes library, I use the device, because it's easier that way, and that's okay too. So I guess it's fair to say that it'd be nice to have the option of triggering Netflix or Hulu from an iDevice just like you use it to navigate an iTunes library, but if you're going for dead simple, easy to use, obvious control of what's on screen, the Remote app is great.


     


    However, I will say that it would be nice if it connected quicker, though I can generally pick up my iPhone or iPad, unlock it and be in the app and connected in 5-10 seconds, which isn't exactly terrible. In any event, I'm assuming that will be changing in the near future with all the talk in the last year or so about AirPlay Direct and Bluetooth chips built into the Apple TV's. But there really are countless ways that I could envision Apple improving the usefulness of the Remote app, especially on the iPad. And while I'm still sure that Apple's been kicking the tires on doing a full blown television set, I really would not be shocked at all if it never materialized and they continued to focus on improving the Apple TV box and remote experience. Until physical media is completely a thing of the past, TV's are still going to be a pain to deal with.


     


    More general Apple TV set and AV remote thoughts:


     


    The only way I could see Apple truly improving things in the modern living room right now is introducing a box that had a Blu-Ray drive, IR beamers to control a cable box and HDMI inputs for managing any other external sources like video games.


     


    And can anyone see that happening? Yeah, I didn't think so.


     


    But until you give Apple the ability to control the source selection (like an A/V receiver) and bypass any given physical disc player's shitty interface with something simple and obvious of their own, I don't see things getting much better anytime soon. As much as I hate physical media personally and barely use it at all these days, too many people still do, and even if an iDevice could mimic another device's control, it doesn't mean the software baked into the disc player's hardware is going to measure up. And this is why I just don't think Apple will really do a true TV anytime soon. Apple's done with physical media, as they should be, but most people aren't yet, and there's no simple way to rectify that like there was with importing CDs into iTunes.


     


    Even if people aren't buying movies on disc much anymore, they still likely have libraries that they want to be able to watch at least in the next 3-5 years still. Is Apple going to have an option that allows for this seamlessly without having to rely on a 3rd party player? I doubt it. And while the slightly more standardized nature of channel lineups and schedules would allow Apple to control a cable box with beamers, is that really an elegant solution? Absolutely not.


     


    Apple could no doubt come out with a killer TV set with a killer interface and brilliant control and delivery of streamed content and even cable-service content if we're just talking about the hardware technology and software, but it's not even remotely that simple. The licensing is too complicated and the content and service providers have no interest in playing ball anyways. And again, if they aren't willing to provide backwards-compatibility of sorts for DVDs and Blu-Rays, 99.9% of potential buyers will be connecting the same old shitty players with terrible UIs into a TV that only makes it easier to select the input. That's a shit solution, which is why Apple either includes a disc player or just skips TV for a few more years when importing our movie collections into iTunes is as easy as it was to import our music collections. By that time the amount of informed people with extremely fast internet speeds and seemingly limitless hard drive space should be large enough that the movie studios really feel the full force of the "Napster" effect and start loosening up their licensing issues and allowing Apple to at least provide a solution for importing DVD and Blu-Ray collections into iTunes without the use of relatively complicated (to more mainstream users) 3rd party software and "illegal" copy-protection bypassing.


     


    Until then, I really don't expect Apple to do a whole lot more than to continue to build upon the Apple TV box we know today. For those that are a bit more tech savvy and ahead of the curve, this really is a wonderful solution. I have 3 Apple TV's now and besides sports, it's really all I use to view content. But it's a lot more work for me to make it work well than it should be, though I know that's no fault of Apple's. Like I said, this isn't about technology or software or hardware limitations, this is purely about licensing and dealmaking. 

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