Gather 'round, Apple enthusiasts. It's time for some iTV talk.
Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage on Tuesday night at AllThingsD's D10 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, to discuss patent wars, controversies in the company's supply chain and plans for upcoming products. One topic that interviewers Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg were particularly keen to dissect: the long-rumored but never confirmed Apple-branded HDTV set.
Cook at D10 firmly refused to mention explicitly any plans the company might have to manufacture what is already referred to as an "iTV. " He did say, however, that television is "an area of intense interest for [Apple]."
Many believe Apple has already secured or is working to secure partnerships for streaming and syndicated content that would be available on such a device. Other rumors claim a potential Apple television set will feature Siri-like voice control and may even accept touchless gesture input.
Currently, Apple offers a product called the Apple TV, a set-top box that the user connects to a separate television to watch streaming media from sites like YouTube and Netflix, as well as content purchased from iTunes. While the device hasn't enjoyed the success of the MacBook, iPhone or iPad, the Apple TV may provided clues to the company's plans for new products and strategies.
Cook noted for Mossberg and Swisher that customers bought 2.8 million Apple TV devices last year, and that Apple sold nearly as many set top boxes in the early months of 2012. According to Business Insider's Henry Blodget, this puts Apple on track to sell as many as 8 million Apple TV devices before the year is out. Comparing those figures to Apple's sales of iPhones (35.1 million), iPads (11.8 million) and Macs (4 million) during the first three months of 2012 reinforce Steve Jobs' assertion that the Apple TV is merely a "hobby" device, an assertion Jobs made at the 2007 D conference. Nevertheless, Tim Cook stressed on Tuesday night, "[Apple is] not a hobby kind of company."
"Our tendency is to do very few things," said Cook, according to a live blog provided by The Verge. "And, if something creeps in and isn't a big success, we get it out of the way and put our energies on something else. Apple TV though, you see what we've done. We've stuck in this."
The question is, why would Apple hold on to a product that would never be the runaway success that some of its larger product lines have become?
At the Goldman Sachs Technology Confernece in February, Cook spoke of the Apple TV's potential to lead Apple into greater success elsewhere: "If we kept following our intuition and kept pulling the string, we might find something that was larger."
Apple seems to have merely dipped its toes into this market and doesn't appear to be shrinking back from the relative chill. Will the company's next move be to take a running leap and pull off the cannonball it seems poised for? Will we see a major shakeup in TV hardware and content distribution? Cook's sort-of answer, per Engadget's D10 live blog:
Here's the way we'd look at that. Not just at this area, but other areas. 'Can we control the key technology? Can we make a significant contribution beyond what others have done in this area? Will this product be one that we want?' That's what we'd ask about any new product category. That's what we ask about products within families that we've already announced.
In a word: maybe.
Anything's possible, Cook teased again and again during the rest of the interview. When pressed more broadly about future products, Cook vowed that Apple will "double down on secrecy" and coyly talked around "incredible" things the company has in store. (Closest at hand is Apple's yearly Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off on June 11, when Apple is expected to announce new MacBooks, the next version of iOS, though most likely not the next iPhone or an HDTV.)
Check out All things D's official live blog to read more insights from Tim Cook about Apple's patent wars with rival device makers, its "tumultuous" relationship with Facebook, Steve Jobs' legacy and much, much more.
The New iPhone Will Have A 3.999-Inch Screen: 9to5Mac
Stop us if you've heard this one before, but a recent rumor claims that the next iPhone is going to have a larger display than the last one. <br> <br> What's that? You've been hearing that every day since February 2011? Doesn't matter, because here it comes again:<br> <br> A week after Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/iphone-5-release-date-specs-apple-rumors_n_1527839.html" target="_hplink">all independently reported that</a> the screen on the "iPhone 5" will be larger than the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S display, <a href="http://9to5mac.com/2012/05/22/likely-next-generation-iphone-with-3-9-inch-display-1136-x-640-resolution-in-testing/" target="_hplink">9to5Mac reports that</a> Apple is currently testing several devices, one of which has a 3.999-inch Retina display. Rumor has it that the actual phone will stay the same size, but that the screen will stretch upwards. ("3.999-inch display" refers to the length of the diagonal of the screen). <br> <br> That pretty well aligns with what those three old media outlets reported last week: that a 4-inch display is in testing, if not inevitable. Though we're still probably about five months out from the release (best guess for that is October), it's sure looking like Apple will up the display size on its next iPhone.<br> <br> So, what comes next in the Apple rumor cycle? Well, this being the Internet, how about a mockup? Read on for more. <br> <br> (<a href="http://www.overdrivedesign.com/blog/2012/05/how-iphone-apps-will-benefit-from-a-4-screen-on-the-new-iphone/" target="_hplink">Mockup here via overdrivedesign.com</a>).
Here's A Video Mockup Of The 4-Inch iPhone 5
Is this slick video grounded in reality? Probably not. (Where did the idea of 3D sound come from, for example? Looks silly). Anyway, we all love iPhone 5 mockups, so there you go. <br> <br> If you're a long-time reader of This Week In Apple Rumors, then you probably know what's coming next. We've got the unsourced rumor; the ridiculous mockup; and now -- yep, you've got it! -- here comes the "supposed iPhone 5 part leak." NEXT SLIDE!
Is This The Front-Panel Of The Next iPhone?
<a href="http://www.macrumors.com/2012/05/22/new-part-leaks-include-taller-ipod-touch-front-panel-iphone-5-cameras/" target="_hplink">This one comes via MacRumors</a>, following 9to5Mac's report on the 3.999-inch iPhone 5. It is supposedly the front panel of the next-generation iPod Touch. Presumably, that means it could double as the front panel of the iPhone 5 in a pinch; if it's real, then (a big if), it means that the next iPhone will indeed have a taller display. <br> <br> Then again, this could be <a href="http://entertainment.time.com/2011/08/22/top-10-worst-fake-british-accents/slide/natalie-portman-v-for-vendetta-2005/" target="_hplink">faker than Natalie Portman's English accent</a> in <em>V for Vendetta</em>. Who knows.<br> <br> (By the way, <a href="http://www.macrumors.com/2012/05/22/new-part-leaks-include-taller-ipod-touch-front-panel-iphone-5-cameras/" target="_hplink">MacRumors also has photos</a> of what it claims are the "home button flex cable," front camera, and rear camera, if you're into that kind of gadget porn.)<br> <br> Before we get classified as an X-rated site, let's turn away from gadget porn and turn to another unlikely combination: A television made by Apple. It's coming, so the smart men and women say, and one analyst thinks he knows the killer feature that's gonna make you want to shell out the big bucks...
Will The Apple Television Be Totally Portable?
I think we can all agree that the worst part about most TVs is that you can't take them into the bathroom with you when you defecate. Forrester Analyst James McQuivey <a href="http://blogs.forrester.com/james_mcquivey/12-05-23-apples_coming_plan_to_take_over_the_tv_business" target="_hplink">agrees with me</a> (in theory), calling for the so-called "iTV" to be little more than a large, movable touchscreen: <br> <blockquote>Here's me putting on the record what I've been telling clients behind closed doors for more than a year: Apple should sell the world's first non-TV TV. Instead of selling a replacement for the TV you just bought, Apple should convince millions of Apple fans that they need a new screen in their lives. Call it the iHub, a 32-inch screen with touch, gesture, voice, and iPad control that can be hung on the wall wherever the family congregates for planning, talking, or eating -- in more and more US homes, that room is the dining room or eat-in kitchen. By pushing developers to create apps that serve as the hub of family life -- complete with shared calendars, photo and video viewers, and FaceTime for chatting with grandma -- this non-TV TV could take off, ultimately positioning Apple to replace your 60-inch set once it's ready to retire. </blockquote> <br> This sounds incredible -- not because it's a cool idea, but because: Can you imagine the fights there would be if you could just tear the television straight off the wall? Disgusted spouses just marching into the room during the big game, ripping the TV off its stand, and then bringing it into the kitchen? "Hey, where are you going with the television? I was watching that!" <br> <br> "Stealing the entire television" could be the new "stealing the remote." IN THE FUTURE! The Brave, New, Portable Future!
Everyone Still Thinks New MacBook Pros Are Coming In June
If you're thinking about buying a new MacBook Pro between now and Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference (June 11-15) -- well, maybe don't do that. Everyone -- EVERYONE -- thinks that Apple is about to refresh its MacBook Pro models, as further evidenced by <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120524-714576.html" target="_hplink">an article in the <em>Wall Street Journal</em></a>. That report <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120524-714576.html" target="_hplink">quotes Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes</a> as predicting that new MacBook Pros with Retina displays will be among the fun new stuff Apple unveils at WWDC in June.<br> <br> So, if you were trying to decide between saving your money for a new MacBook Pro or going to see <em>Battleship</em> 75 times this weekend, you should probably save that money for the new MacBook, because it is probably just around the proverbial corner. It's also gonna be quite the machine, <a href="http://9to5mac.com/2012/05/14/apple-readies-revamped-15-inch-macbook-pro-retina-display-ultra-thin-design-and-super-fast-usb-3-3/" target="_hplink">if the rumors are true</a>. <br> <br> Also, come on, how many times does one guy need to see <em>Battleship</em>? <br> <br> That's all for This Week In Apple Rumors. Make sure you check back next week for more Apple rumors (we do this every week!); and if you can't wait that long, you can get up-to-the-second Apple rumors by <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/gilbertjasono" target="_hplink">following me on Twitter</a>.