Apple: What New iTV Rumors Mean for Investors
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Sure, Amazon had a great quarter, and Microsoft and Barnes & Noble just announced a sexy Nook partnership, but at the end of the day, we all just want more Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) television set rumors.
There are more and more hints coming in from supply chain vendors that a new TV from Apple is surely coming soon. Several up beat Q2 outlooks from display-related companies appear to be partially linked to early iTV builds. One of these vendors, AU Optronics, noted that new entrants and technologies that have been in the works should launch in the second half of the year.
The interesting thing about any positive display company news is the well-known fact that just about every major TV manufacturer has announced cuts in TV production expectations for 2012. Is an Apple TV entrance into this market really enough to counter a complete industry slow down? We will just have to wait and see.
Also adding to insightful vendor chatter is a recent Time Warner call where management acknowledged several new entrants into the TV market. Time Warner has said that they are ready to open up their APIs to allow new TV manufacturers access to all the company has to offer.
For those that continue to roll their eyes as Apple TV rumors and speculations litter their news feeds - let's go back and revisit some key moments earlier this year that hint at what is still to come. Back on a February 15 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that the company would be releasing something much bigger and better than the current Apple TV. "With Apple TV, we've always thought that there was something there, and if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling the string, then we might find something that was much larger," Cook said. "For those people that have Apple TV right now, the customer satisfaction is off the charts. But, we need something that could go much more main market for it to be a serious category," added Cook.
Following the death of Steve Jobs last year, Apple's new CEO Tim Cook has been under a lot of pressure to step out from behind this enormous shadow. The best way to do this is to reveal a completely new product in a completely new category that Apple has yet to dominate. The new Apple TV is Cook's baby and always has been. A successful product release that can in someway pull inspiration from an original Cook napkin sketch would do wonders for the company, its fans and its investors.
Keeping Apple television set rumors alive and at the forefront of the blogosphere is a recent report that Apple, not satisfied with marketing add-ons to other developer's televisions, has been in talks to secure rights to stream Hollywood movies for its upcoming TV set. According to Reuters, Apple began talks to stream films owned by EPIX, which is backed by three major movie studios, on devices including the long-anticipated TV. EPIX distributes movies from three major Hollywood studios, Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount.
There's no doubt that an Apple TV would incorporate sensual design cues worthy of the brand, but a new TV is only as good as the content it delivers. This fact alone is most likely the biggest factor causing any sort of delay to market. Standing at the threshold of the enormous content-laden kingdom is the king of Internet film streaming - Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX). Netflix has been quite stern in its dealings with Apple regarding what the company can currently stream to its devices. For the last year, Apple has been blocked from streaming most of the new release and popular Hollywood content Netflix procures from EPIX.
One can only imagine how hard it is for a taste-maker like Apple to be denied access from a fellow digital pioneer like Netflix. It should be no surprise then to learn that Apple has decided to cut out the Netflix middleman and go directly to EPIX looking for a new deal. While the initial talks between Apple and EPIX are just beginning - all eyes are trained on Netflix. Netflix was the absolute trail blazer in this space and the company had locked up exclusive rights for the content it streams to its 23 million American subscribers. One little chink in Netflix's armor is the fact that the company's current deal with EPIX expires in September this year. Uh Oh.
Netflix currently pays in excess of $200 million per year for the right to stream exclusive content, and I truly hope they don't intend to spar with Apple on a pay to play basis. Also, put yourself in EPIX's shoes. Who do you want to go to war with over the next decade - Apple or the company that almost launched Qwikster? Before we just assume that an Apple + EPIX deal is a sure thing, one must remember that Apple has already approached a number of Hollywood film distributors for rights to stream online content and they were denied by them all. It seams that old Hollywood might have a little bit of an issue with the shiny fruit company that has the power to kill entire industries with the swipe of a mouse. Nobody from the music industry was available for comment on this.
Many insiders have rumored the new Apple television product to be called iPanel so as to not confuse consumers with the current Apple TV product currently available. More recent ramblings have been centered on a name more simplified as just "iTV." Either way - here is what we know to date. Features will most likely include a Siri-based remote control, multiple content deals for streaming content, streaming from the iPhone/iPad to the big screen and a new gaming element.
Early last month, Apple was rumored to be launching iTV this summer,according to analyst Peter Misek. Misek actually found proprietary parts that would be found in the rumored television being sent to Apple Asia. His original prediction was a target launch of May/June, but like many rumors before his - they have proven to be just that, nothing but rumors.
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