Apple's next big thing?

Oct 27, 2011 By Jonathan Takiff

Along with revelations about his "thermonuclear war" on Google and funding of non-traditional cancer treatments, Steve Jobs' newly published biography drops a bomb about the next big thing he and Apple were working on.

And it's - tah-dah! - Apple TV. Not that little set top box (Job's "hobby" of a product) we associate with the name today, but a full-fledged television set that could synch with all your other Apple devices, iTunes and content stored distantly in the iCloud. Oh, and it would probably work with Apple's smart voice command technology Siri that's been amusing the heck out of iPhone 4S users. Jobs is quoted in Walter Issacson's biography saying, "It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Well, with more than a little help from some of his employees, like the highly prized Jeff Robbin. He's the who developed the SoundJam - a technology bought by Apple and evolved a decade ago into iTunes. Robbin now heads the next generation Apple .

Ever one to pump up Apple (and its stock), Bloomberg quotes industry analyst Gene Munster (Piper Jaffray) that a full-fledged set could be marketed by the end of 2012 or 2013, based on "meetings with contacts close to Apple's suppliers in Asia, industry contacts and Apple's ."

But on the dark side - Apple's recent efforts to contract current broadcast and cable programs for low cost, a la carte purchases through the iTunes store have largely come to naught. The content providers' sweetheart deals with cable and satellite TV companies and their success in selling complete seasons of shows via disc and downloads are still major stumbling blocks to any visions of ruling the TV universe which Apple, arch rival Google (with TV) and Microsoft (via Xbox 360) have been going after.

Also, the cable/satellite rivals are not sitting idly by, letting eat their lunch as the company did with the music industry's stock-in-trade. Comcast recently showed me its next generation cable box operating system, currently being tested in Augusta, Ga. Branded as both "Xcaliber" and "Spectrum," this 2.0 system nicely integrates traditional cable-fed and internet streaming content. In fact, I was told that a lot of second-tier specialty channels currently carried system-wide could more efficiently be delivered over the Internet, on demand, unclogging the cable "pipe" for other purposes.

Comcast 2.0's on-screen guide display is flashy and smart, the search engine works like a charm and also pulls in videos from YouTube, music from Pandora, and connects to Facebook and Twitter.

Oh, and while not currently activated, there's a small microphone icon and companion button on the 2.0 remote control, plus a speaker on the remote's backside, suggesting you might soon be talking your way into "find me movies with Johnny Depp" or whoever. Siri-ously, could it get much smarter than that?

Getting Comcast to implement this tech is quite another matter - like turning around a battle ship. My demonstrators said "all our HDTV boxes installed in the last two years" have the brainpower to support the new hybrid cable/internet protocol TV system. But upgrading the rest of Comcast's cable box universe will be very expensive (think billions) and will not be accomplished overnight.

Explore further: China's Xiaomi raises more than $1 bn in funding

3 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Apple Invades the Living Room

Apr 01, 2007

With the long-awaited Apple TV home entertainment adapter, consumers can see for themselves whether Apple's iPod magic can extend into the living room.

Recommended for you

As dust clears, what's next for Sony?

2 hours ago

The Sony hacking attack continues to deliver more dramatic plotlines than any fictional movie, but meanwhile the movie studio must move forward and tackle the next steps in minimizing the mess. Will Sony ...

It's down to the wire for online shopping

5 hours ago

As the holiday shopping season winds down, FedEx, UPS and online retailers are using the last few days to try to avoid the problems that occurred last year when severe winter weather and a surge in late orders ...

China's Xiaomi raises more than $1 bn in funding

Dec 21, 2014

China's top smartphone seller Xiaomi Corp. is raising more than $1 billion in a fresh round of funding, a move which would raise its valuation above $45 billion, a report said Sunday.

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

Dec 20, 2014

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

Dec 20, 2014

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

Sony tells AFP it still plans movie release

Dec 20, 2014

Sony Pictures boss Michael Lynton denied Friday the Hollywood studio has "caved" by canceling the release of "The Interview," and said it still hoped to release the controversial film.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.