Even though Apple hasn’t attended the Consumer Electronics Show for years, it always seems to capture a lot of the show’s buzz, either by holding an event of its own around the same time, as it often did when it was involved with the Macworld exhibition, or, more recently, courtesy of the ever-churning Apple rumour mill.
This year is no different. With Steve Jobs’ revelation in Walter Isaacson’s biography that he had “cracked it,” in reference to making an easy-to-use TV, CES is (or apparently will be) abuzz over when Apple will release its long-rumoured television.
Count me among those who think Apple will eventually release a television, but I don't think it will be this year; my gut tells me we’ll have to wait until 2013. I think it will simply take that long for Apple to work the (sometimes serious) kinks out of iCloud and Siri.
That said, I have a bone to pick with the many pundits I hear, especially on the various tech podcasts I listen to, saying that an Apple-branded television is a ridiculous idea. Their arguments go along the lines that since Apple is a high-margin company, their TVs will be over-priced and doomed to fail because people traditionally don’t buy new TVs at the same rate they buy new computers or phones. Who would spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a new TV, knowing that it will be obsolete in a few years? The answer to this rhetorical question is, of course, no one. Hence the “doomed to failure” part. Every time I hear this, it sets my teeth on edge.
Apple has never entered a market only to compete on the existing playing field. With the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, it either totally disrupted the market or, in the case of the iPad, conjured it out of thin air. With so many precedents in its history, why do all these pundits think Apple would just make an over-priced TV to compete with Samsung, Toshiba and Sony.
I haven’t the foggiest idea what the Apple TV will be like, but if Steve Jobs and Apple "cracked it," I’d be willing to bet that a) it’s drop-dead gorgeous, b) it won’t be as expensive as everyone is expecting (remember the gasps of surprise when Steve introduced the iPad starting at $499), and c) it will be a game changer.
Somehow, I doubt many of the “pundits” will be willing to take my bet.