Left Field: Apple HDTV?
To see the Apple logo emblazoned, front and center, in the living room on a 50″-ish HDTV and not just tucked away on the desk in the office or bedroom or den, but where everyone lives–what a branding opportunity. Not that Apple has ever created a product just for the sake of brand-building, but if there was ever the perfect blending of meeting a need in an arena where brands are defined like no other, creating an HDTV that wirelessly ties into the iTunes store and runs Front Row so brain-dead simple and right out of the box, this would be it. If Jason Calacanis from Valleywag is correct as reported in Nate Lanxon’s blog on CNET UK, which I originally found the link on TUAW’s Rumor Roundup) (link-love spread around), it might finally be taking shape in Cupertino and even more importantly, close to being released to the public.
It could have been argued in the past, that Apple didn’t need to enter into the living room space, as its brand was a technology brand and not a lifestyle brand. Why not just continue to tweak the AppleTV in its current form and pair it up to any HDTV set? I think that will continue to be an option for Apple, but Apple has always been about controlling the whole widget, the whole ecosystem. As of today, this is the one area in Apple’s business model where it has left out such a vital component–and it’s the component that people look at and interact with perhaps more than any other branded technology item in their household besides their mobile phone–and Apple’s well on their way to having that covered pretty well (some may argue the refrigerator, but I’m having a hard time visualizing an Apple logo on that). But with the unparalleled success of the iPod and iPhone as well as changing the name from Apple Computers, Inc. to just Apple, Inc., Apple has already broadcast their intention (or recognition) of being a lifestyle brand.
Personally, I feel that its high-time that Apple introduced its design philosophy to the living rooms of America, and for those that can afford to, to be able to build their entertainment center around an Apple product as the whole widget, rather than just as a peripheral, and display it front and center. I believe that Apple has established a reputation of being able to deliver a dead-simple device that just works. Those that are inclined for a more affordable solution should still have the stand-alone AppleTV as an option–even if it requires a bit more technical savvy. Add to it, the open-source environment and if services like Boxee take off, Apple will soon own the living room and will have become a true juggernaut, rivaling Sony in the home electronics landscape.
Having it be announced this coming Tuesday, might be too much to hope for, as Apple has made it clear that the spotlight will be on notebooks. But there’s always the possibility that Apple may make an announcement in time for the holiday shopping season (assuming there’s still any money left in the world to spend by that time), but it seems to be more likely something that would be announced at Macworld, come next January (just in time for the Super Bowl!). We’ll have to wait and see.