updated 01:40 pm EDT, Mon August 16, 2010
Set-tops, live TV seen as obstacles
If legitimate, the rumored iTV upgrade of the Apple TV could still be just a bridge towards a full-scale HDTV, argues Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. Apple may try to launch one in the next two to four years, he suggests, using the company's North Carolina data center as a key anchor. The site could be used as a hub for an iTunes streaming service, making it possible to watch a catalog of movies and TV shows without having to keep local copies.
Claimed to be two "primary" obstacles to Apple success are live TV and set-top boxes. At June's D8 conference, CEO Steve Jobs complained that the Apple TV was hampered by free or low-cost boxes provided alongside channel subscriptions. The only way that might change, he suggested, is to "go back to square one, tear up the set-top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different functions, and get it to consumers in a way that they're willing to pay for it." He suggested there was no way of accomplishing this at the time.
If Apple does have a workaround, says Munster, the company may launch an iTunes TV subscription, costing anywhere between $50 and $90 a month. Supplementing this would be apps from the App Store, granting access to currently-available services such as Hulu Plus and Netflix. As for the TV itself, the analyst suggests that it might cost between $1,800 and $2,000, less overall than a comparable 40-inch TV when paired with a DVR, Blu-ray drive, receiver, game console and cables.