Why didn't Apple make this Apple-branded television?

Here's the answer, according to the former New York Times reporter who told us it would.

From Nick Bilton's "The Technology Behind Apple’s Ridiculously Thin New Laptop Could Change Everything" in Vanity Fair:

Back in 2011, I broke the news that Apple was exploring the possibility of developing an Apple-branded television. Viewers would interact with the device using Siri—a feature that Jobs had told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, was necessary to rid the world of the era’s hideous remote controls. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

I was told repeatedly that Apple would eventually make a television. “Absolutely, it is a guaranteed product for Apple,” I was told by one individual. “Steve thinks the industry is totally broken.”

The TV never actually came to fruition. When I started asking around as to why, one Apple employee, who asked not to be named, explained: “We looked at the TV market, and it turns out that most consumers buy a new television every 10 years. We really don’t want to get into a market where we’re selling a single device to our customers every decade; we need them to buy a new device every year.”

My take: Sounds about right. But who was the "one individual" who planted the Apple TV set story with Bilton -- and perhaps, even more famously, with Gene Munster? If I had to guess, it would be another guy named Phil.

10 Comments

  1. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    I figured it would’ve been called the Cinema TV. In my head, it been great & expensive. Thought my use case would be a great monitor & tv. I’ve discovered that I ended looking more at my MBP screen vs looking at what I was projecting on my large wall Sony TV. Going AppleTV was a wise choice, to me, because it kept my options open.

    2
    August 13, 2022
    • For 14 years in my old Annapolis photo studio, I screened 1000s of classic movies on an Apple Cinema Display connected to a maxed out G5 tower. The fan roared sometimes but G5 never failed to let me & visitors enjoy Bogart & Bacall. Ran Photoshop scripts like champ for hours, simultaneously.

      0
      August 13, 2022
  2. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    We just moved to a new city and left our two Sony wall tv’s as a perk to selling our prev home. And my excuse to buy the latest Sony or LG LoL.

    Meanwhile, we’re using my son’s retired Dell monitor connected to my HPods & TV. It forces us to go to the theaters LOL.

    But hmmm, maybe get the latest Apple display for the interim? Another excuse to add a display to my home office later haha!

    3
    August 13, 2022
  3. Why build the TV when the real money is in the monthly subscriptions for quality programming. Apple eventually did manufacture an award-winning TV+.
    Same goes for cars, why build the cow when the money is in the car software, AR apps and monthly subscriptions?

    1
    August 13, 2022
    • Add semiconductors for cars. A quality SoC for EVs seems ripe for Apple. There’s an iPhone in quite a few cars right now.

      0
      August 13, 2022
    • David Drinkwater said:
      Replying to Thomas Williams, in case this gets disconnected:

      This 100%. Why muck about in the low margin mud, when the software that drives it, and maybe a small puck along the side, drives real revenue?

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      August 14, 2022
  4. bas flik said:
    i would like the idea apple entering tv market. nowadays every home has many tv’s. all kind of sizes. Sony has now nice tv with direct access to their film library. most tv’s have terrible software with tons of options one don’t understand, hdmi ports to choose of. horreble the lg and samsung. apple is capable of cleaning this software mess by making a tv with perfect software. and via tv you subscribe. so they can create completely new app store. tv will bring in more money than ar vr dreams. tv market is out there. ar vr is no market yet and probably will never be in near future. ar vr is against humane nature. the brain does not like it. and what is free market economy about: anything the brain wants. do not mess with the brain.

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    August 14, 2022
  5. bas flik said:
    apple eco system is that big now that will ship many tv’s. because all tv’s are perfect with almost no difference in image quality future selling driver will be the software inside. and samsung lg made a mess of it. also broadcaster stream more and more their content making the whole tv environment software except the screen itself. golden market for apple. only problem will be again the politicians when apple will have conquered complete market once again.

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    August 14, 2022
  6. Bart Yee said:
    bas, I disagree. TV’s are low margin, high cost devices, with huge inventory, shipping and support issues. Whatever smarts they have pales in comparison to the adaptable and upgradable Apple TV 4K box where the real money is – managing and seamlessly combining streaming platforms under a straightforward easy Apple TVOS interface.

    There isn’t enough market size, upgraders, and motivation for Apple to join TV makers’ ranks, nor is there margin enough to make it worthwhile – examine Samsung’s display unit and TV earnings report comments and discussions and see it barely holds it own, dependent on “major customer orders (Apple) for significant revenue. Meanwhile the large screen TV market plods along with little technical advancement or impetus for upgrading save failure.

    It might have made sense 10 years ago but IMO certainly not now. The recurring revenues from Apple TV and the iOS Services sector subscriptions far far outweigh what an Apple TV could realistically make now, and IMO, Apple does not need yet another supply chain/assembly line factory to deal with, plus support.

    1
    August 14, 2022
    • David Drinkwater said:
      Replying to Bart:

      100%. You said what I was thinking with more and better words..

      2
      August 14, 2022

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