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Apple TV is dead, long live Apple TV!

Gregg Keizer | May 22, 2015
Apple may have buried a branded television set, but its Apple TV box does 95 percent of the job, analysts argue.

Instead of a television set, Dawson and Moorhead agreed that Apple would rely on the Apple TV as the core of its strategy to rework a television experience that Apple executive Eddy Cue said last year "sucks," and make good on CEO Tim Cook's long-running professions that the company wants to figure out a way into TV.

"We'll see a redone Apple TV" this summer, perhaps at Apple's annual developers conference, predicted Dawson. He expects the revamp to support a TV subscription service, include either an easy-to-use remote or better integration with the iPhone for the purpose, and kick-start development of apps, primarily games, that are native to the device.

He also forecast a major role for the Apple TV in Apple's plans to dominate home control devices. "It will be the hub for HomeKit," said Dawson, referring to the home automation framework that launched nearly a year ago. Dawson envisioned the black box as the family's control HQ, with iPhones and iPads -- and even Macs -- serving as the remotes.

Yet neither analyst was willing to completely bury the idea of an Apple television set.

"Never say never," said Moorhead, acknowledging that Apple has head-faked analysts and the media before.

Dawson was more specific, to the point where he came up with several reasons why Apple would want a set with its own logo. "As long as you are just an input, one of many, you'll be competing with other boxes," Dawson said. "But by controlling the TV, you get to decide how those other boxes are controlled. That gives you leverage."

If Comcast, say, balked at doing a deal with Apple, Dawson speculated, the latter could twist arms by making sure the cable giant's set-top box was incompatible with the TV, or relegated to second-citizen status. "'You might want to do a deal with us,'" Dawson said, putting words in Apple's hypothetical bargaining mouthpiece.

Dawson spelled out several other rationales for a television set in a piece he posted Wednesday to his personal blog.

Long shot? Certainly.

"A TV set locks you in for 5 to 10 years," said Moorhead. "But Apple wants to move you along every three years onto something new."


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