While Apple has managed to put nearly 320 million iPhones into pockets of customers around the world as well as place over 120 million of iPads into the hands of its clients, it still has not managed to actually enter the living rooms around the globe, unlike its rival Microsoft Corp. However, Apple’s “hobby business” Apple TV set-top-box is gaining some traction while the company is working on its own TV-set.
“We sold more [Apple TV] last quarter than we have ever sold before, eclipsing two million during the quarter. It was up almost 60% year-on-year and so there is actually very, very good growth in that product,” said Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, during the most recent conference call with financial analysts.
The relatively rapid growth of Apple TV’s popularity can be explained with the growth of the overall number of iOS-based devices shipped so far: around half of a billion. People who own iOS devices also own content on iTunes and want to playback it on their TVs, which requires an Apple TV set-top-box. In addition, the latest-generation Apple TV STB is not as limited in functionality as its predecessors and Apple’s TV services are now more robust; therefore, slowly, but surely Apple is moving into the living room.
“I have said in the past this is an area of intense interest for us and it remains that and I tend to believe that the, there is a lot we can contribute in this space and so we continue to pull the string and see where it leads us but I don’t want to be more specific,” said Mr. Cook.
After Steve Jobs himself announced plans for an Apple TV-set family, it makes no sense to deny that the company is working on one. However, in its usual manner, Apple never discusses any kind of details about its products before they are launched commercially. One of the things that have been confirmed is that Foxconn Electronics, Apple’s main contract manufacturer, had started to make preparations to produce iTV products. In fact, Foxconn is in talks to acquire Sharp's TV assembly lines in several countries.
Nobody knows what exactly is Apple TV-set and how competitive it will be in the light of emerging smart TVs with stereo-3D support and other technologies like cloud video game streaming. Like a lot of Apple's products, it may become a major success for the company and will transform the whole market of TV-sets.
One of the main features of Apple's television set is projected to be an ability to quickly search for content from numerous sources, including Apple's own iTunes. Given the fact that the user experience should be integrated, this feature alone presents a number of challenges. In order to provide unique capabilities and simplicity, Apple TV will likely integrate iCloud, Siri along with motion sensing support for content sharing and control purposes. In a bid to be able to control the TV using iPhone, iPad or iPod, the TV will be compatible with Apple's AirPlay technology.