Calif. — It was overlooked amid a slew of wide-ranging
product announcements, but the revamped Apple TV could
be key to transforming the television-viewing experience
— and give consumers the most compelling reason yet to
cut the cable cord.
Inc.’s diminutive digital streaming device has gotten
a major overhaul, with Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook
unveiling a more powerful version this week and
declaring it "the future of television."
analysts say it’s not quite the future, but it’s an
the first time a company has turned out a set-top box
and a home entertainment system that could be considered
comprehensive. The new Apple TV takes what competitors
do in a piecemeal way, brings it all together and adds
the Apple TV, I think they hit that dead on," said
Angelo Zino, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ.
"What they’re doing now is great in the form of
them making greater penetration into living rooms. I
think they nailed it."
its core, the device is built around a belief that apps,
not cable channels, will become instrumental to how
television is consumed and lays the groundwork for a new
age in big-screen at-home entertainment. It contains
better hardware, a new operating system called tvOS, an
improved remote control and the integration of a smarter
Siri personal assistant that understands fairly complex
need a new foundation for TV," Cook told the crowd
during the company’s hardware event in San Francisco.
"We know this is what it takes."
has been the laggard when it comes to the
Internet-fueled modernization of screens: smartphones
and tablets have changed the way people live, while TV
has remained largely stagnant. An app-driven TV platform
will bring the viewing experience in line with what
consumers are used to on mobile devices: namely, the
ability to choose what you want to watch, when you want
to watch it.
a starting price of $149 — significantly pricier than
rival set-top boxes but not outrageously expensive —
the Apple TV is poised to be a hit among consumers
during the all-important holiday season (the device will
be released in late October).
analysts cautioned that although the set-top device
helps diversify Apple’s product portfolio, Apple TV as
a standalone product won’t make much of a dent on the
bottom line. Zino estimated that over the next 12
months, the device will account for less than 1 percent
of Apple’s revenue, "so it’s not going to move
would make a substantial difference, they say, is if
Apple uses Apple TV as a launching pad to more ambitious
television plans down the line. There are already some
early hints that that is what Apple intends to do; the
company has been holding early talks with executives in
Hollywood that could lead to a push into original video
content to take on the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
is a major hardware possibility as well.
growth potential is in TV, but it’s not in set-top
boxes," Zino said. "By all accounts next year
they’ll roll out a TV streaming service and thereafter
it becomes interesting. … As they gain more traction,
they can come out with a full-blown product offering in
the sense of a large-scale TV."
new Apple TV also has enhanced capabilities for light
gaming, and games are likely to be a huge category of
Apple TV apps.
Apple’s huge ecosystem of developers to TVs should not
be underestimated," said Al Hilwa, program director
of software development research at IDC. "This is
what most of us thought Apple TV was going to be three
perhaps a sign of how important Apple considers
television to be, it gave Apple TV its own dedicated
hands-on demo section after its event this week; all of
its other products — iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, iPad Pro,
Apple Pencil, Apple Watch and more — were grouped
together in a separate section of the Bill Graham Civic
darkened spaces designed to resemble sleek living rooms,
Apple employees showed off the new functions of the
set-top device. Siri expertly pulled up movies and
television shows by category when directed, quickly
fast-forwarded and rewound streaming content to specific
locations ("fast forward three minutes," for
instance) and displayed retroactive captions when the
user asked, "What did he just say?" There were
apps for sports and exercise, so "you’ll never
have to work out alone," an Apple rep said.
also touted the new remote, which comes with Touch
Surface — a feature that does away with frequent
button pushing in favor of swiping. Users use their
thumbs on the Touch Surface of the Siri Remote to
scroll, select and navigate on the TV screen.