NYT: Siri-Powered Apple HDTV Is Definitely Coming, and Pieces of It Exist

Illustration for article titled NYT: Siri-Powered Apple HDTV Is Definitely Coming, and Pieces of It Exist

After the Steve Jobs biography spilled the goods, everyone's assuming the fabled Apple TV (an actual TV, not a box) is definitely coming. Now the NYT's reliable Nick Bilton says it's definitely definitely coming. And there are prototype parts around.

Bilton—citing his insiders at Apple and its suppliers—says large prototype parts have already been spotted, but speculates Apple is waiting for panel costs to come down before it can manufacture a super-thin set that matches its MacBook Air and iPad design family. Right now, it'd be way too expensive to make, because it's going to be a lot more than just a nice LCD:

Enter Siri.

It's the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk: "Put on the last episode of Gossip Girl." "Play the local news headlines." "Play some Coldplay music videos." Siri does the rest.

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Essentially, Siri murders the remote control. Siri is the remote control. Apple's already shown disdain for the physical remote with the Apple TV, having slimmed it down to its absolute bare bones. It's a beautiful little peripheral, and completely functional, but it shows what we already know: Apple hates buttons. And nothing promises a button-free life like a TV that's always listening to you. Obviously, this will take a more sophisticated version of Siri than the one we're chatting with now, but for a television that's still a year or two off, that's fine. What once sounded dumb and impossible now seems brilliant and inevitable. [NYT]


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DISCUSSION

To be compelling, this would have to be a lot more than Siri replacing a remote. While occasionally useful, too many of the things we use remotes for would be really annoying (loudly calling out volume up in the middle of a scene will not help people hear better, for instance). Hopefully, there's something more compelling going on. Google TV was on the cusp of something with their integration of multiple sources into a single onscreen interface, but got distracted by search BS and turned it into an advanced find-funny-cat-videos tool.

I wonder why Apple would get in the business of selling TVs themselves, though. That's a commodity business with very thin margins and the area for value comes before the TV. While I'm sure their existing panel business opens the doors for good deals on larger panels, they still aren't going to be cheaper than those TV companies making their own panels (Samsung, Hitachi, etc.) There are areas and features that Apple can trim and reconfigure - dump tuners, move inputs to a breakout box, use external power supplies to allow for form factor (and component pricing) flexibility, but all these things only shave the cost at best.

Given Apple's ability to rethink products (even their own) this is interesting, but there'd have to be a lot more to it than is currently being speculated.