Apple has made legendary products, but the products it didn’t make have their own legends. For every iMac, iPod and iPhone produced by Apple, there have been rumors of products that might have been. The apple glassesthe apple carand the first of them: Apple Television.
These rumors of a Apple iTV passed away years ago, for good reason. A television is an expensive product to manufacture and Apple likes to make a lot of money. To earn the same profit he makes on phones and AirPods, he’d have to sell a TV that’s too expensive for today’s market.
Or it would need to use bargain technology to cut prices, like Amazon did with its Fire TV Omni sets, until recently.
Apple is already on TV
Apple doesn’t have to make a TV, because you can just plug in a AppleTV 4K to the set you own. You can AirPlay from your iPhone 14. You can watch the best apple tv shows, and play all your favorite Apple Arcade games, all without an Apple TV. Apple knows the real money isn’t in the TV, but in the services that support it.
If there’s a company on board with sales services, it’s Amazon. It is difficult to describe Amazon these days because the Amazon Prime service covers many categories. Amazon is a storefront with an expedited shipping service. It is also a streaming content service; a music service; a cloud storage service; and a service capable of automating and securing your connected home.
Amazon sells speakers, cameras, smart displays and even a traveling robot. These screens got bigger and bigger until they became full-fledged Fire TV Omni sets. Amazon TVs have quickly grown in popularity because Amazon offers them with no frills other than Amazon services, and the prices are some of the lowest you’ll find on any brand you’ve heard of.
Why sell a cheap TV? The Fire TV is a hook to get you to Amazon Prime. It’s a huge monitor for all your Amazon Ring cameras. It reminds you to use Alexa. Amazon could sell a television at a loss. The one-time profit from the sale of a TV is nothing compared to the monthly income of subscribers.
Why aren’t more streamers making a TV?
Surprisingly, few content and service providers are able to dominate the show so completely. Your favorite streaming services aren’t interested in making a TV. No TV from Disney, or HBO, or Netflix, or even Hulu.
Roku is getting closer. Roku bundles its software with TCL TVs, an alternative to the Roku streaming stick. It has exclusive content, but very little. If you want to watch “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” this fall, you’ll need Roku. This does not come close to the level of original programming offered by Amazon, in addition to all licensed content.
Amazon targets Samsung
Obviously Amazon would sell a cheap TV, but why would it sell a fancy TV? The new Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED uses quantum dots, which provide superior color accuracy. It has local dimming, which is a fancy trick that brings LED TVs closer to the near-infinite contrast of OLED screens. These are videophile features. They won’t look as good as the best samsung tv or the best lg tvbut Amazon is very competitive on the price.
This could be a danger for Samsung. Samsung smart TVs can run all the streaming apps you need, including Amazon Prime Video and even Apple TV+, but Samsung doesn’t have a hook.
Samsung sells great, reliable TVs across a range of price points, but nothing locks a customer into the brand like Amazon has with all of its Prime, Ring, and Alexa-related services. Once you’ve configured your home to work with your Amazon Fire TV Omni, you may be more inclined to continue purchasing Fire TVs.
There is a company that could compete with Amazon in this space. A company with a robust streaming channel full of content; a company with a range of subscription services; a company invested in home automation. Apple could easily take on Amazon, but it just doesn’t want to.
An Apple TV is not impossible
An Apple TV can’t be an entry-level bargain like a Fire TV Omni, and it can’t be half-step up like the Fire TV Omni QLED. It must be among the best, if not THE best.
Currently, top display manufacturers use these displays in-house, and Apple does not manufacture its own display panels. Buying the best panels from a third party is expensive. For Apple to make enough money with a TV, the screen technology will have to be much cheaper.
It is not impossible. Samsung has finally cracked the manufacturing code for its own TV-sized OLED panels, breaking LG’s near-monopoly. TVs with OLED are considered the highest quality, so it’s unlikely Apple will make a TV that doesn’t use OLED. If OLED production costs come down enough, that removes a hurdle.
If TVs are locked, Apple will need to create one
Apple will make a TV if it needs to make a TV. Today, each TV maker allows competing apps and services to run, and a myriad of devices to connect and stream content. In the future we may see more of a walled garden.
What if Amazon decides it doesn’t need AirPlay on its TVs, or removes the HDMI port altogether to cut costs? Then Apple devices would be effectively blocked. What if Amazon ditches third-party streaming apps, as it avoids Google apps on its Android tablets?
Amazon already locks users in by integrating all of its various services into a single hub. If iPhone users can get everything they need from an Amazon Fire TV Omni without tethering their smartphone, they’ll stop buying Apple TV devices and be less likely to sign up for Apple’s top-tier services. Apple. Then Apple might be forced to make a TV.
One day, if technology prices drop and competition between service providers intensifies, we might wake up to find that Apple is ready with the TV of our dreams.
If you don’t want to wait for Apple, you can find TechRadar’s list of the best TVs here.
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