Report: Apple abandons television effort

Apple, it seems, won’t be making a television after all.

Although analysts and rumors have been promising for years that an Apple set was on the way, the company actually abandoned the project more than a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reported late Monday. Despite working on the project for years, Apple ultimately gave it up because the company couldn’t come up with a compelling set of features that would allow it to compete in the cut-throat market.

Prior to shelving the project, Apple explored a number of innovative features, according to the report. One early prototype was a transparent sheet of glass that used lasers to project images. Unfortunately, the image quality was poor and the system used gobs of power.

Apple also explored using so-called 4K displays — which have four times the resolution of high-definition sets — in its televisions, before such technology became mainstream, according to the report. And it looked into allowing users to make video calls through its sets. At the time, 4K displays were prohibitively expensive and video calling didn’t seem like a killer app, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The report convinced Gene Munster, who has long promoted the notion that Apple would release a television, that the company actually won’t do so. In a research note released Tuesday, Munster admitted that he was wrong about Apple’s intentions, noting that he had misread the reasons that Apple kept apparently delaying the release of the device.

“Originally we had expected that content was the reason for the delay; however, we misidentified the true reason for delay, which was a lack of perceived killer features,” Munster wrote.

Munster wasn’t the only one expecting to enter the television market. In an open letter released Monday, Carl Icahn, a large investor in Apple, voiced his belief that the company would soon release its own TV.

Apple officials themselves have stoked these expectations. Current CEO Tim Cook has said that Apple has an “intense interest” in improving the television experience. Shortly before he died in 2011, Steve Jobs, Cook’s predecessor, said that he wanted to create an “integrated television set” that tie into cloud-based services and said that he’d “cracked” the user interface, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of him.

But it’s long been clear that the television market would be a particularly difficult challenge. The move to high-definition technology prompted a big boom in the television industry about a decade ago. But with consumers in developed countries having largely swapped out their old televisions with new HD ones, television makers in recent years have struggled to re-ignite sales. Prices have plunged overall and premium features have quickly made their way into mainstream sets, making it hard for companies to profit from their sales.

Despite abandoning work on a television set, Apple is widely expected to unveil a new Apple TV digital media player and possibly a new online television service at its developer conference next month.

Photo of Apple TV and interface, courtesy of Apple.


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  • Realist555

    It would have been foolish for Apple to produce a TV set, notoriously low profit margins. Apple TV will continue to evolve and so will TV services.

  • Manang Boy

    LOL!!!! I could care less. I’m just laughing at fanboys who waited for this. LOL!!!
    Looks like all in for the driverless car for apple.

  • alrui

    Theres no info here directly from Apple so this is what we had previously – RUMOR!