Despite rumors, speculation and even confirmation from Steve Jobs that he had finally “cracked it,” an Apple television set still appears unlikely to turn up in the near future. Apple has publically stated that they will only enter a market if they feel they can create a great consumer product that addresses key problems found in other devices. In this instance, they know what needs to be done but convincing other necessary players to join in is proving difficult.
Following a meeting with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and designer Eddy Cue, Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves issued a company update today. As outlined in the note and as we have heard before, Apple feels that there are two key problems with the television industry – a poor user interface and the bundling of pay TV channels.
Fixing the interface shouldn’t be a problem as Apple could reuse what’s already available on their set-top box or recycle the iPad’s UI. The problem is getting broadcast and cable network content outside of a bundled package. This is virtually impossible as the content is owned by a small group that has no interest in breaking distribution methods already in place. Furthermore, taking such a device internationally would pose a different set of hurdles that remain impassable at this point.
It’s unclear when, or if, we will see an iTV materialize. There’s little doubt that consumers would flock to an a la carte programming structure regardless of who brings it to market. Convincing those in charge of programming, however, likely won’t happen anytime soon.