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The rumours of an iTV or Apple TV have been persistently circulating for several years. More recently the hype built around the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and failing any mention of the device by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company's stocks fell.

While many will use this opportunity to highlight again the loss of Steve Jobs and the big shoes that Tim Cook is struggling to fill, no doubt Apple has a plan.

The brand's history is full of hype, rumour and new technology to market that has revolutionised how we listen to music, use our mobile phones and share and interact with each other. Apple TV, I’m sure, will be no different.

Of course, the term Apple TV has been around for a while, but in the form of a digital media receiver. A small set-top box that allows consumers to use an HDTV set to view photos, play music and watch video content that originates from internet services or local networks.

Apple TV allows content to be bought from iTunes, Flickr, Moileme, YouTube and Netflix and has a number of partnerships with movie studios and television networks, giving it an impressive content library. At the beginning of 2012 it was announced that it had sold 4.2m Apple TVs.

Ahead of WWDC, analysts were quick to predict what we could expect from an iTV, with motion controls and a touch-screen remote being most prevalent. Without Tim Cook mentioning details in his keynote we can only speculate, but Apple’s history and the brand values it is based upon can provide key insight into the future of its connected devices.

As the smart TV market continues to grow in 2012 / 2013 one of the most significant developments is consumer’s interaction with the second screen, or the multi-screen experience.

Currently 70% of tablet users and 68% of smartphone users use their device while watching TV, usually in a social sense and more often than not this social activity isn’t tied to the programme they’re watching.

Where brands and advertisers start to innovate in this untapped multichannel space with programmes such as The Million Pound Drop, Apple software like AirPlay could have an advantage. Purchase one programme-related app from the Apple TV store and get it across all your devices, mobile and tablet.

It's ability to link devices could provide the answer to the industry's question – what will the connected home look like? 

This week Rovi launched the results of its research on Samsung Smart TV owners, revealing that on average they have nine apps installed on their device, predominantly video delivery apps such as BBC iPlayer.

While the research only focused on the Samsung platform and it's not surprising that the apps are dominated by video, it “perhaps does show that app developers are struggling to find a use for the smart TV beyond simply delivering on-demand content”.

The response Apple received following the launch of the iPhone and over 500,000 apps now available for it could provide the innovation-push needed for apps on smart TV platforms. However, as no Software Development Kit for third-party developers to create apps for the Apple TV was announced at WWDC, again we have to speculate about the next-generation TV platform. 

Interestingly, while speculation is still rife, research shows that consumers are already planning for the launch of Apple TV. Among Britain’s, 38% of current Sony TV owners and 36% of Samsung TV owners are ready to flee to the Apple fan army when Apple TV sets hit the shelves.

Apple has always driven rumour and speculation regarding its products, and there has been a strong trend of accuracy for these in the past. It’s been claimed that Steve Jobs confessed that he had finally “cracked” the perfect Apple TV, so we can only wait and wonder what his vision for the set was.

Chris Gorell Barnes

Published 22 June, 2012 by Chris Gorell Barnes

Chris Gorell Barnes is CEO of Adjust Your Set and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can also follow him on Twitter

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Comments (1)

Dean Marsden

Dean Marsden, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai Ltd

I think everyone would like to see an Apple TV Smart TV device. But I strongly believe this will not happen. The TV market in general is hugely competitive and I remember something about Apple stating this was a huge reason not to try to compete directly.

When you look at the current offering from Apple, it is in many ways more flexible and far superior. Why produce a TV with built in Apple TV software for it to only have a shelf life of a few years until the next big thing? Having a tiny box to plug in is simple enough and more future proof.

The ability to Airplay anything from an iPad to the current Apple TV is useful option in my eyes. The iPad is a powerful device that can deliver richer content then any competitively priced TV unit ever will.

about 4 years ago

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