Before the Apple Television, a TV Remote Control?
If Apple truly is intent on disrupting the TV industry as it has done to the music and telecom industries, does it really have to build a standalone HDTV? Couldn’t the agent of that disruption be some other device? At least initially?
Say, a remote control?
That’s the theory put forth by Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes, who suggests that the fulcrum of Apple’s TV strategy isn’t the TV itself, but positioning its iOS devices as interactive TV command centers. The iPhone and iPad can already wirelessly stream content to a TV with an attached Apple TV. Why not further expand those capabilities?
“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,” Reitzes explains. “These tasks would clearly infringe further on tasks usually earmarked for desktops and laptops — and the iPad and Apple TV combination doesn’t even require Apple to get into the TV market.”
An interesting theory. As Reitzes observes, outfitting iOS devices with functionality like this clearly enhances their use case. And if consumers find that enhancement compelling enough, it could expand Apple’s total addressable market for iOS devices.
Consider that there were about 360 million TVs in North America at the close of 2011. If Apple succeeded in transforming its iOS devices into smart TV remotes, it could add millions of units to its total addressable market.
For what it’s worth, Reitzes hasn’t discounted the idea of an Apple HDTV. He thinks there’s one on the company’s product road map, but it hasn’t yet inked the licensing deals essential to its success.
“Over time we expect Apple will want to get into the TV market, but not until it is able to negotiate a service offering for TV — building on iTunes and iOS — that revolutionizes the market for enjoying content and computing in one platform,” he said. “We believe Apple will be patient until it finds the right cable TV partner to work with to promote this vision.”