According to a recently published report in The Wall Street Journal, Apple last year gave up on releasing a branded HDTV set after nearly a decade worth of research and prototyping.
It was ultimately unable to figure out a set of differentiating features that would position its TV apart from the competition.
Apple intensively researched various display technologies, in an effort to find something better than rivals such as Samsung and Sony.
It created a prototype that was transparent when turned off but used lasers to display an image when turned on. But the technology never made it past the research phase because it used a huge amount of power and produced an inferior quality image.
Other features it played with was 4K display, which would have been far too expensive and including built-in FaceTime functionality.
Apple executives only enter new markets when they can add something of value and in this case, Apple was unable to conjure up any compelling new products. This is unsurprising, given the number of manufacturers in the TV space and their innovative product offerings.
In short, Apple usually shakes up industries that lack innovation but in the TV industry there is plenty of it. Margins in the TV industry are also notoriously low, which doesn’t really align with Apple’s traditional business model.
Like all leaks, its more interesting who leaked it and why. The Journal report comes shortly after a letter published by activist investor Carl Icahn in which he stated why Apple shares should be valued at $240. Icahn believes that the company will not only enter the HDTV business, but the auto industry as well.
The WSJ leak is likely strategic PR to counter Icahn’s off-base assumptions.
Instead of owning hardware in the living room, Apple looks poised to control the software. According to various reports, Apple’s TV service will be a lightweight offering of about 25 stations that will be priced in the $30-$40 range.
Not exactly a big screen TV but likely a compelling offering nonetheless.