Don’t get your hopes up.
Wondering will Apple make a TV? It’s probably one of the most questions not only consumers have, but market analysts and investors have as well. As a matter of fact, ten years ago, analysts wouldn’t shut up about crowing on about how Apple needed to get into the television market.
Yet it never happened. Oh, Apple definitely makes products for televisions. From service products like Apple TV Plus and the iTunes movie and TV store, to hardware products like the Apple TV. Even the company’s HomePod minis can be used as accessories to hour television.
But as for a paper television set – sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but don’t get your hopes up any time soon. Here are the four main reasons Apple will not release a television set:
1. Televisions Have An Exceptionally Long Ownership Cycle
Most people keep their television sets for at least five years and plenty keep them eight to ten years before upgrading. In other words, many people upgrade their car more often than they upgrade their television set.
Contrast that with the 2-3 year upgrade cycle for smartphones and 3-4 year upgrade cycle for computers. While the long lifespan of TVs is good for consumers, it’s a negative mark for companies that may be considering getting into the television market because your happy customers are going to be returning every few years for an upgrade, which means all that R&D you spend might not pay repeat dividends for 6-8 years.
Of course, if your product can dominate the market and get nearly all of the consumers buying your TV over competitors, this might not be an issue, but…
2. The Television Market Place Is Exceptionally Crowded
There are about five major smartphone manufacturers (and plenty of smaller players. But the television market is packed with dozens and dozens of companies with decades of experience in selling TVs whose name brands are respected and trusted.
In other words, there’s no shortage of players already in the market and they already put out everything from budget television sets to ultra-high-cost 8K televisions that exceed 100 inches. Apple presumably wouldn’t be interested in the low-end market, but the high-end television market is already so crowded, even Apple may have a problem pecking away at that end of the sector, that’s because…
3. Apple Obviously Doesn’t Feel It Can Innovate In The Sector
What could Apple bring to the television sector? don’t get me wrong – their Apple TV is the best set-top box on the marketplace, with the best UI and user experience. But you can own any TV and get the Apple TV experience–just plug the device into your TV.
Apple will only get into a new device market if it thinks it can innovate in the sector (see smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and wireless earbuds). The fact that Apple hasn’t launched a television set yet means they likely believe they don’t have anything to add over and above what other manufacturers are already doing.
Sure, Apple could build an amazing 8K HDR OLED television – but so can Sony and Sharp and LG – and those companies are already doing it.
4. Prices for Televisions Are Relatively Low Even For Big Sets
Don’t get me wrong: some higher-end TVs can cost an arm and a leg, but most 4K OLED televisions can be purchased for between $400 and $800 from dozens of different vendors. Those (relatively) low prices also result in low margins (because so many players are competing against each other).
Apple is not a low-margin company. They like making expensive devices with 30%+ margins. That works in the smartphone marketplace (because Apple constantly innovates there), but you aren’t going to pay a premium price for an 8K HDR OLED television from Apple if you can get the same great display from Sony or LG at a third the cost – and Apple knows it.
In other words, for now, at least: don’t get your hopes on an Apple television set any time soon.
And check out How To View Your Netflix History (And Hide It).
Michael GrothausApple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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