Now that the iPad arrival date is nearing, perhaps Apple will turn its attention to the Apple TV. Sooner or later, Apple is going to have to put some muscle behind its "hobby," or just forget about it entirely. Unfortunately, in his talk at the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference, Apple Chief Operating Officer still described it as a hobby.
And it's not like there's a lack of growing interest in such a product. Or at least a product that the Apple TV could become. Nearly 37% of broadband households in North America are extremely or very interested in viewing over-the-top video content on the home TV, according to market research firm, In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com). The demand is growing as companies such as Apple offer streamed or downloadable TV and movie content.
The problem is that, for the same $229 price as the Apple TV, you can get alternatives that browse NAS shares, play all formats, and are starting to include services like Hulu and Netflix. And which do 1080P video. Of course, Apple doesn't want Hulu, Netflix and similar services eating into the iTunes revenues. But at some point Apple is going to have to decide exactly what it wants to accomplish with the Apple TV.
Similarly, a growing set of web-enabled TV devices is now proliferating across device categories that include digital TVs, Blu-ray players, Digital Media Adapters (DMAs), network attached storage, and set top boxes. Some pundits think Apple will introduce its own branded TV. I don't see it myself, but the web-enabled TV trend is certainly one to watch.
“By 2013, In-Stat predicts that nearly 40% of all digital TV shipments will be web-enabled devices,” says Norm Bogen, In-Stat analyst. “Across all categories, there will be over one-half billion web-enabled CE devices in operation worldwide by 2013. Shipments of such web-enabled devices will see a compound annual grow rate (CAGR) of nearly 64% between 2008 and 2013.”
Recent research by In-Stat found the following:
In 2009, there were five broadband households worldwide for every web-enabled CE device. By 2013, this ratio will be 2:1.
In-Stat’s consumer survey indicates that over half of US consumers with network-connected Blu-ray players/recorders use Wi-Fi, while 30% use Ethernet.