Apple's iTelevision: Ultimate Consumer Device, Hardest Sell Of All
Apple's Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson he wanted to do for television sets what he did for mobile phones. Jobs told him he had "cracked the secret."
Don't think about the exact features of iTelevision -- if that could be the name -- but about how competitors would respond. Whatever you think of Jobs, it would create some new entertainment consumerism for sure.
You might complain Steve Jobs wasn't all that great -- for all he accomplished, he had failures. But Apple did push HTC and Google to come up with the Android-platform mobile phone (the latter of which Jobs threatened to go "nuclear" against for apparently stealing everything from the iPhone.)
A proposed iTelevision would sync to all devices -- iPhone, iPad, you name it -- through the iCloud. There also wouldn't be a need for new TV remotes. Sure, who doesn't want that?
Of course, we don't know how content and services from big media companies and movie studios would react. History says something here: The limited TV and movie content of Apple TV has been one of its problems.
This is not to say that Jobs wasn't successful when it came to starting services (e.g., iTunes) and devices (e.g., iPad) that needed big-profile movie and TV content. He had no problems pushing a mobile app business for iPad, with many TV providers jumping on board. He had no problem teasing Walt Disney to join up for iTunes way back when.
But that was different. Traditional television is still the overwhelming revenue driver for big media companies. New digital stuff is still experimental and doesn't -- at present -- threaten the big money.
Jobs did better when focusing on entertainment-happy hardware -- iMacs, laptops, iPhones, and iPads. For Apple, it was never about making money on TV, movies and music content.
Not so for the likes of Comcast, Netflix, Googl, or Hulu. Getting a piece of that content to sell -- as a distribution point -- is where money is made. That leaves Apple to focus on devices, spin, and consumer dreams.
With that in mind, I'm not sure Jobs figured out -- as he did with computers, mobile phones and tablets -- a different kind of long-term loyalty in getting consumers to buy a new TV every five years or so.
Maybe Apple's Tim Cook has cracked that secret.