Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘HDTV’

Apple Already Makes TVs ➝

M.G. Siegler on the recent news that Apple shelved development of a television set:

why on Earth would they want to do that? Even for a company with the manufacturing chops of Apple, a 60-inch screen would be complicated. Glass. Shipping. Storing. Showcasing. Margins. Etc.

At the same time, a whole generation is now growing up used to watching television content on their phones and/or tablets. Or, at the very least, their laptops. For all intents and purposes, these are televisions. And guess what? Apple already makes them!

Every friend I had growing up had a TV in their bedroom. It was kind of a right of passage that your parents would buy a TV for you when they thought you were responsible enough to have one. But,  that no longer seems to be as common. Today, nearly every teenager has a smartphone they carry in their pocket and if they have a TV-like device in their room it’s more likely to be a computer or a tablet.

When those smartphone, computer, or tablet touting kids become adults, how many of them are going to spend $300-400 on a TV? Many of them will be just as happy to, instead, spend that money on a computer or tablet and go without a traditional TV well into their 20s.

Simply based on habits developed in the average person’s childhood and teenage years, I wonder how long it will continue to be the norm for every living room in America to house a large television set. At some point it seems that there will be a transition away from one large screen toward smaller, more personal devices for everyone in the house.

I think Apple was wise to shelve development of a television set. Not just because of margins, shipping, and physical space in their stores, but because it’s a market that will eventually die due to the proliferation of tablets, smartphones, and computers. And Apple’s already doing quite well in that market.

Netflix Announces Recommended TV Program ➝

I have a hunch that television manufacturers are going to have to pay to get their TVs labeled with the “Netflix Recommended TV” logo. Which means there very well could be TVs that perform better than those with the certification from manufacturers who have chosen not to pay for the right to use the label.

Personally, I wouldn’t suggest anyone purchase a television with this certification or any other smart TV features anyway. It’s only a matter of time before your set gets abandoned by the manufacturer and you no longer receive software updates. Save yourself the money, buy a “dumb” TV, and use the money you saved to purchase an Apple TV or a Roku box.

Samsung to End Plasma TV Production ➝

Nilay Patel:

The death of plasma is an incredible success story for LCD technology, but it’s also a sad reminder that disruption doesn’t always meant the best products win: no LCD TV has ever looked as good as the best plasma TVs. Just go down the list: Pioneer’s Kuro plasmas were so amazing that CNET still uses them as a review reference years after they were discontinued in 2008. Pioneer couldn’t make any money and sold the Kuro technology to Panasonic, whose high-end plasmas were widely considered the best until late last year, when the company stopped making them in favor of LCDs. (The remaining stock is in high demand; used 55-inch sets are selling for $3,000 and up on Amazon six months later.)

I’ve owned an LCD television for about eight years and although it was the best I could afford at the time (back when 42-inch HDTVs were around $1500) I always expected that at some point I would upgrade to a plasma television.

Now my options are dwindling, and I don’t expect I’ll be able to plunk down the cash for a new television any time soon. It’s sad that plasma is dying while it remains the best technology for picture quality, but I suppose all the misinformation about burn-in and the need to “refill the plasma” was just too much for the technology to overcome.

LG’s webOS HDTVs ➝

The folks at Engadget had some hands-on time with LG’s new HDTVs built on webOS. The user interface looks pretty, but that pointer device seems like a pain to actually use.

Apple’s TV Set

Marco Arment really got the ball rolling when he published his thoughts on an Apple HDTV. MG Siegler, Chris Dixon, and Neven Mrgan have all written responses to Marco’s initial piece about the topic.

MG Siegler points out that many of Marco’s arguments for Apple not entering the television market are also good reasons to enter it. The television industry could use some sort of iPhone-like change that would force manufacturers to build better products that offer a drastically improved user experience. And Siegler thinks Apple is the right company to do it.

There is just so much potential here and no one is doing anything with it. TiVo tried, but they just didn’t have the firepower. Apple does.

All of Sielger’s arguments seem quite convincing, but I just can’t get past this point:

As for the warehouse argument, Apple already makes a ton of 27” iMacs. These would be considered pretty big TVs just a decade ago. To compete now, they’d likely have to do 40” or 50” models. But they’re really not that far away from it.

The biggest problem I see with an Apple HDTV is having enough space in the back room of their retail stores. Yes, Apple sells a lot of 27-inch iMacs, but those iMacs are sitting in warehouses and stock rooms in place of the 24-inch iMacs that preceded it. These theoretical HDTVs are brand new products that would need to take up new room in retail stock rooms. Not only would every single Apple retail store need to have room to stock enough HDTVs to sell for a week or so, they will need this room in addition to all of the space that their existing products already take up. These are physical limitations that may require some of their smaller retail stores to relocate or rent out new space for additional stock.

Chris Dixon’s response takes a look at analyst’s reactions to the iPhone when it was announced in 2007. They seem a bit silly today because none of their arguments seem to have mattered in the long run. But, none of them seemed outlandish when they were published four years ago. If Dixon’s piece convinces you of anything, it’s that Apple won’t let the current market condition dictate their decision making — if Apple entered the market, it would change.

Neven’s piece mentions the possibility that users just don’t want a more computer-like television experience:

Everyone wanted a pocket computer. But I’m not sure everyone wants a living-room computer. That has been attempted before, quite awfully so; perhaps Apple can do it better. But perhaps they can’t, because perhaps people don’t really want it that much.

A valid argument. And one that supports the idea that Apple isn’t going to enter the television market, at least not yet.

Neither Chris Dixon or Neven Mrgan mentioned the physical limitation of retail stock rooms in their responses to Marco’s piece. But, I think this is the biggest problem. Sure, they could convince millions of users to upgrade their televisions more regularly. They’ve done it with nearly every other product they’ve released. And, they could probably make deals with cable companies (if necessary, although I’m not convinced that it is) to ensure that they don’t attempt to block or slow down internet traffic coming to or from Apple’s televisions. But, this doesn’t solve the stock room and warehouse problem.

I do believe Apple will enter the television market at some point, but not yet. Apple didn’t just jump into the cell phone market head first, they tested the water with the Motorola ROKR first. And I think we’ll see a similar strategy here. I expect Apple will spend a couple of years licensing AirPlay to television manufacturers before they jump into the market themselves.

The Apple HDTV ➝

Marco Arment on the recent rumors of an Apple-made HDTV:

It causes practical problems, too: TVs usually require large warehouses and very large retail display areas, which Apple’s retail stores aren’t ideal for. And large TVs usually require in-home service, which Apple doesn’t offer for any other products.

This is an argument I’ve never heard anyone make before, but it’s incredibly strong. Most Apple retail stores could probably find room on their sales floor for a couple of demo units — especially with the removal of most boxed software thanks to the Mac App Store. But, finding space in the back room is where things get a little tough. HDTVs come in big boxes and if you sell dozens of them a week (or day) you’ll have to find space to hold all of them. I’ll bet most Apple Stores just don’t have the room.

It’s much more likely that Apple will simply license AirPlay to television manufacturers, so that owners of AirPlay enabled TVs could stream video from their iOS devices over Wi-Fi.

Apple Is Said to Consider Licensing AirPlay for Streaming Video ➝

Sounds like a fantastic idea. Apple wouldn’t make as much money selling AV adapters but they’d make a bundle selling licenses to television manufacturers.

And with the current trend of building everything but the kitchen sink into televisions, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a hard sell for Apple to convince manufacturers to build AirPlay in. It’s one more check box feature to slap on the front of their TV proving that it’s better than the competition.

May is the End of Pioneer Kuro Plasmas ➝

Pioneer Kuro Plasma

Pioneer had previously announced that they would cease production of HDTVs but now we hear that if you would like to purchase a Pioneer Plasma you better do it soon.

After May they will essentially be impossible to find, I’m sure you will be able to get one second hand or there may be a few of them lying around in a warehouse somewhere for you to purchase but basically they are going to be gone.

It is sad news for all of us who enjoy good picture quality, Pioneer made the best HDTVs and were of significantly better quality than any other television manufacturer. There is still the possibility that Panasonic would be able to pick up the baton and build better plasma TVs, but it is more likely that LED based LCD displays will completely takeover the HDTV market.

On April 1 Pioneer will roll out their final four models, two 50-inch and two 60-inch TVs. Pioneer will continue to service televisions in Japan until 2017 (details of other markets isn’t currently available).