We've said it time and time again: Something like half a dozen companies are working on their own versions of the future of TV. The latest rumor, via Quartz, mentions that Apple's been chatting up Viacom, HBO, Disney, ESPN, et al about offering their content on a new TV service. But apparently content is just one piece of the puzzle. According to Quartz, Apple is working on an actual full-fledged television set.
The content side of the report is nothing too surprising; Apple wants to bundle channels into apps that would be streamed to their television sets. Just this week, for example, the Wall Street Journal said Sony signed a similar deal with Viacom. Intel is courting them and others, too. Everyone wants content. We get it.
The key difference with the latest Apple TV rumor is that it's not just content. Contrary to previous reports that indicated Apple would stick to just a set top box product, Apple's version of the future of TV would come complete with an actual television.
An Apple HDTV has been rumored for years, although mostly as the wet dreams of known-terrible-analyst Gene Munster. It's a strange business for Apple; the margins are slim, the product cycles long, it takes up valuable retail space at its Apple Stores. On the other hand, you're never going to truly own someone's living room unless you're its centerpiece. The Apple TV is a nifty little hockey puck, but it's not something your grandparents would buy.
Which brings us back to the content question. Unless Apple can convince a major player to let Apple HDTV customers tap directly into their service without cable, it'll have a hard time standing out in a very crowded field. Quartz suggests that even one or two deals—ESPN or HBO, say—would be enough to convince Apple to make its HDTV dreams a reality. But even if it can get those services as standalones, it's far from clear that customers would be willing to pay for them once they saw the price tag.
The two things that are clear, assuming the report is correct, are that Apple's television plans are far more aggressive than we might have thought otherwise. And that they're still nowhere close to achieving them. [Quartz]