Apple TV 3 or Apple TV set?

by tomek on December 1, 2011

new apple tv 3 or apple tv set

Back in October, 9to5Mac found an evidence for a next-generation Apple TV being in the works – a reference to ‘Apple TV 3,1’ (current model is listed as 2,1) inside the iOS 5 file system. The number changing from 2 to 3 should signify a major upgrade. 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman believed the device would get a dual-core A5 processor (that would open door to true 1080p) and a bluetooth support.

This Monday Gurman found that a new codename – J33 – has been assigned to Apple TV in iOS 5.1. According to Gurman, iOS release history tells us that Apple assigns a proper codename to products that move closer to release.

Now 9to5Mac has found that the next-generation Apple TV will include Bluetooth 4.0 technology, what is believed to be further evidence that an Apple TV refresh will soon be upon us. Gurman speculates that low-power Bluetooth 4.0 technology could bring a bunch of new input devices to Apple TV: Bluetooth remote with a built-in noise-canceling microphone to take Siri commands or some sort of touchscreen game controller – like a standalone version of the iOS Remote app. With the FM Radio chip in the new Apple TV, Apple could theoretically include radio streaming support.

On the other hand, there is a lot of evidence that Apple is working on its own TV set. The new rumors come, once again, from an Apple analyst Gene Munster. Munster just said at Business Insider’s IGNITION: Future of Media conference that Apple is going to launch a TV next year. Not a set-top box, a TV set. According to BI, “Munster is so sure an Apple TV set is coming that he told anyone in the audience who is thinking of buying a TV to wait, because Apple’s is going to be awesome.”

Here is what Munster thinks:

  • Apple TV will be a full-fledged TV set, not an external gadget like the current Apple TV that you have to plug into your TV set.
  • This is because Apple thinks people hate to plug in external gadgets.
  • Apple TVs will come in a range of sizes, in contrast to most Apple products, which are one-size-fits-all. Part of Apple’s goal here will be to appeal to young Apple fanatics who can’t afford or don’t have room for a 50-inch flat screen.
  • Apple’s TVs will be priced at TWICE the prevailing market price for a normal TV: $1,600, for example, for a TV of a similar size from another manufacturer that might cost $800.
  • The magic of Apple’s TV will be seamless integration with your other Apple devices and service. The TV will come with a standard remote, but you’ll also be able to control it with your iPhone or iPad or via Siri. You’ll also be able to download console and other games, content, etc., from iTunes, the App Store, and iCloud.
  • Apple’s TV will be the first TV that thinks the way you do. Instead of trying to remember what channel is ESPN is on, for example, you’ll just fire up (or say) “ESPN.”
  • You’ll still have to have a cable subscription and cable box because Apple doesn’t have enough content otherwise. But the only thing you’ll have to do is screw the co-ax cable into the back of the TV set.
  • Apple will launch its TVs for the holiday season next year.

There is no doubt Apple is working on its own TV set but the 2012 release seems highly unlikely. Most probably, Apple will release an updated Apple TV box (Apple TV 3?) sometime next year, and we will not see the Apple-branded TV until 2013, maybe even 2014.

You may also want to read:
Sony CEO: No doubt that Steve Jobs was developing an Apple TV set
Bluetooth coming to Apple TV 2 with iOS 5
How to Jailbreak Apple TV 4.4.3 with Seas0nPass – Tethered
Giveaway: aTV Flash (black) for Apple TV 2

  • CSellers

    How about a game system for Apple called Iplay?

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  • This all seems unlikely, but the kicker that makes it impossible is “But the only thing you’ll have to do is screw the co-ax cable into the back of the TV set.” 

    The only way this could happen is if Apple ran its own coax cable to your house. I don’t see any scenario where the cable TV companies and Apple come to an agreement to work together. No cable company would never give up control of the user interface and either would Apple. 

  • Mitch Manor

    Yeah, there’s no way it could just be a coax and that’s it. There’d have to be a card slot as well, unless something changes in the way the cable companies scramble their digital premium channels. Then what about the internet connection? You are either going to have your cable subscription or your internet coming through that coax, unless they are planning to leave out people not using wi-fi, which isn’t going to happen. So now we have at least 3 plug-in requirements for home theater integration and we haven’t gotten into video disc players or game systems. 

    Unless I’m misreading what you mean by user interface, cable companies already do give it up as they are required to by the FCC. That allows consumers to buy their own set-top boxes, TiVo is probably the biggest example. When no cable box is used, like with basic cable, even TVs have their own built in interface for selecting channels. I presume what the speculation is that Apple will just have a more seamless interface that doesn’t require input switching and all around just be more Apple-like. 

  • TiVos use CableCARDs and thus don’t fit the description of just plugging a coax cable in. And even the TiVo only has access to some cable content, requiring a Tuning Adapter for some channels and not having access to VOD — paid or otherwise — at all. Ask yourself, do you see Apple supporting CableCARD?

    The only way for it to just work with a coax would be for the cable companies to strike a deal with Apple and thus make the encryption work without a card etc. And the only way that will happen is if the cable company gives Apple control of the user interface. Which I don’t ever see happening. 

  • Bungo

    Yea, won’t happen unless they cut a deal. But, just like with ATT, if they cut a deal with a big provider like Comcast or Time Warner, it would give them a massive one up on their competitors like Verizon and Satellite. If other cable companies see these first few sing ons do well, they’ll want ATV in their markets too.

    I actually think chances are very good that the big game changer of no more cable box ATV will be upon us in the next 12 months. It’s the only way an ATV would make the huge splash that Apple likes from its products, and we can safely assume that Jobs hated the whole cable box paradigm.

  • I wish I agreed. The problem is that there is no AT&T in the cable industry. No provider has nationwide coverage. The sat companies are the closest and I’d bet Apple hates dishes as much as they do set-top boxes. The other big different is that most markets don’t have real competition so the providers really don’t care. Hence why the boxes are so bad.

  • Mitch Manor

    Look at my statement again. I said that there’s “no way” it’ll be a single coax, then after that pointed that they’d have to include a card slot. Now ask yourself why I need to ask myself if Apple would support CableCARD. I then go onto to mention additional reasons it can’t just be a single coax so we might be getting a bit redundant here by continuing with the single coax factor. 

    I don’t think anyone is arguing against it and am wondering if Muster was misunderstood or taken out of context with that line. No matter how far-out you go with how it could work, it still doesn’t make sense. We’d be talking about, at the least, changing the way cable companies scramble channels and eliminating modems. I think modems are a bigger factor than STBs at this point. Of course, Muster may have been thinking of a wifi enabled TV and web-based content, and not factoring in the other things people plug into their TVs. That starts to make sense, but ultimately there’s no way it would be a single coax unless it came with some sort of WiFi device router for video players and the like. Which would be very cool, but then why the need for a coax at all? I’d like to know the full context of that statement – do you have any idea on that because, like you, I think it sounds like crazy talk. 

    Coax aside, my initial point was that there is evidence where the cable companies do give up their user interface. I used TiVo because that is probably the biggest example. Another, probably more appropriate, example concerning user interface would be Comcast’s iPad app that allows you to stream their premium and VOD, although that doesn’t apply to the TV market. Still, the point of the ATV thus far has been Internet-based content, so an app seems more in line with what we might be looking at.

    Still, as much as I like to consider how all of this might work, I’m not convinced a full-fledged ATV is going to happen. I can’t see there being much of a market for one because it almost feels redundant with all the other options out there. iPad, iPod and iPhone worked but they were entering a market that wasn’t already as mainstream as internet TV. On a personal level, I’d just rather see them upgrade the ATV box and work to improve functionality. That, and I feel like this would end up being a Newton scaled failure. 

    You brought up another point on your blog that reflected my initial thoughts in that Jobs’ seemed opposed to entering the TV market. I’d hate to think that he’s being ignored and hope that his “cracking it” refers more to a more seamless way to view TV or a way to create a mutual agreement with studios and hardware manufacturers, and not actually a step to entering the market.  

  • TiVo still doesn’t really count because it is a result of a mandate from the FCC, and even when cable companies themselves issues TiVo’s they strip out the over-the-top streaming services like Netflix because they don’t want their VOD to be on a level playing field with competing services. The opportunity to integrate only the linear offerings of cable TV has sailed, if you don’t include VOD, as far as most consumers are concerned, what’s the point?

    The Comcast iPad is Comcast’s UI, not that of the iPad. The Comcast, Verizon, DirecTV and TWC demos at CES last year of set-top-box-less programming on a Samsung TV, were all using the provider’s UI, not that of Samsung.

    Haven’t you always wondered why Apple doesn’t do Apps on the Apple TV? Perhaps it is because they know that switching Apps on a TV to find programming would be just as jarring as switching inputs? Look at Netflix on the ATV, while most just use the Netflix UI, Apple wrote their own. And guess what, it is one of the best Netflix UIs out there. Who else built their own Netflix UI? TiVo and Microsoft (Xbox and MC). Without unified search and consistent experience so matter who makes the show, it will be a fail. 

    I firmly believe that to deliver an “Apple experience” they’d have to control both the hardware and the software. Just like they always have.

    As for the “coax” discussion. This is a technical one that is easily overcome once the political and business hurdles are dealt with. I have no doubt that Apple could emulate the cable co’ encryption or that we could see IP based delivery like what is used on the new Xbox dashboard Live TV coming next week. I mean hell, Verizon’s VOD has always been IP based and delivered via coax.

    And the TV is the biggest, most dominate screen in most households where the majority of media is still consumed. There is no doubt Apple, and everyone else, will continue to try to find a way to bring it into the 21st Century.

  • Mitch Manor

    Well, I mean with the iPad Apple is giving up their interface. None of that matters though because we’re on the same page in that neither of us think the single coax solution is in the near future and that Apple needs to move studios/cable co. in the direction of changing their business model. That, and Apple should remain the leader in interface design. While the ATV NF interface isn’t perfect (compared to the desktop browser interface) compared to my BR player, there’s no real complaints — okay, I do with they’d show what you viewed like they do with home sharing. That does bug me, but ATV is still one of the easiest to browse. 
    Well-timed as it relates to this discussion, an update for the EyeTV software came out last night that supports UniCable. I wonder if a new ATV would roll with something like that because there is still the problem of gaming systems on a TV and I think we’re still far off from people giving up their video players. 

    I get what you are saying with apps in terms of their UI not being seamless, but I don’t see how selecting between them would be different than pulling up shows from a guide. I do see where you are coming from in that it’ll muck up the design factor. As much functionality as I have with XBMC on the ATV, I still hate accessing it. You’re totally right that this isn’t the direction we want to go. This is why I don’t see this happening anytime soon. I really hope that Jobs did crack a way to convince cable cos. to change their business model. Like you say, that’s the only way this can work and be revolutionary. 

  • Anonymous

    Cool, time for it! 
    So excited with 1080P playback, think maybe I don’t need to do so much converting with iFunia any more, though now with ifunia and handbrake converting, the apple tv works fine as a home media centre for us.

  • Dtmack

    or call it the App Store and Game Center. Oh wait… it’s already called that.

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  • Secondself82

    Your grasp of the written word is amazing! I’m speechless! You must be a technological wizard of sorts!

  • Perra Osterlund

    Just watch out Apple, IKEA is soon to release their Uppleva TV set with their own apps, easy to use GUI, no cables and so on… I love Apple, don’t get me wrong, but IKEA is famous for doing things very easy and they have plenty of stores.

  • HallucigeniaUK

    Of all the things to worry or not worry Apple execs, I don’t think Uppleva even registered on their radar. An ambitious project, it was clearly doomed from the start, just as Apple’s foray into Dining Tables and Bedside Cabinets would’ve been.

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