Apple Researched a TV Set for Over a Decade, But Ditched Plans a Year Ago: WSJ

Earlier today, activist investor Carl Icahn wrote an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, noting how he expected the company to wade into the television market next year, one of two markets he believes the iPhone maker will jump into (the other being automobiles).

Now, the Wall Street Journal has doused water on those flames, as ‘sources’ (use your imagination) have revealed to the publication ultra-HDTV plans, were ditched just over a year ago, after over 10 years of research:

But after nearly a decade of research, Apple quietly shelved plans to make such a set more than a year ago, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple had searched for breakthrough features to justify building an Apple-branded television set, those people said. In addition to an ultra-high-definition display, Apple considered adding sensor-equipped cameras so viewers could make video calls through the set, they said.

As for the television project, it hasn’t officially been killed yet, say people familiar with the matter; rather, the team was disbanded and sent off to work in other product departments.

The television project had prototypes that included one set that was transparent glass when turned off, but when turned on lasers projected images. However, the idea required lots of power and image quality was sub par.

Other TV plans included a display with 4K and also one added feature of cameras on television sets, for ‘FaceTime for the television’; ultimately the feature set of a TV was said to not be compelling enough for customers to launch into a new product area, say sources.

Instead of plans for releasing a television set, sources say Apple now plans to focus on an online TV service and redesigned Apple TV (slimmer, with a redesigned remote and software) that will not initially support 4K, set to possibly debut at WWDC next month, nearly three years after the last hardware update.

Previous rumours have claimed Apple was in talks with programmers to come up with TV bundles for customers to watch on iOS devices. Apple previously signed a deal with HBO to exclusively launch its online streaming service in the U.S.

Television margins are small and it’s a tough market to crack. People usually buy one TV and don’t upgrade or get another one until many years later. An Apple television would be a tough sell, as it would probably be very expensive.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • Z S

    I already have a nice 55″ HDTV. I’d much rather a tiny little box that plugs into it… rather than replace the whole thing.

  • Yep, that’s pretty much in line with everyone else. It makes sense at this point, with big screen TVs being so affordable now.