Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Apple 4K TV?

Digitimes is reporting that Apple will release a 4K Apple branded TV in late 2013 or early 2014. Though possible, I would say this is unlikely. As has been widely discussed, 4K shares many of the handicaps that lead to disappointing 3D sales: specifically, an extreme premium on pricing with a bare content library. My impression is that to be the type of player that they want to be in TV, Apple has to be shooting for at least a 30% US market share. With the top end of the TV market, sets double the price of the average TV, never being more than 15% of the market, Apple needs to effectively split the TV market into the new and old. This is effectively what they accomplished with the cell phone market; smart phones became not just the high end of the market but a different category of phone. Can Apple do this with a new category of TV without either an existing 4K content base or an existing 4K developer community? Also, when Apple introduced increased resolution to the phone market, it was a pre-existing need and there were immediately applications that utilized the extra visual bandwidth. Few consumers make full use of HDTV resolution now, the extra visual bandwidth of 4K does not have the pre-existing need that phone resolutions had.

I think Apple is more likely to bring about their TV revolution by increasing the utility of existing available content. The Apple branded TV won’t be 4K but it will be a new aspect ratio with specialized HD content for the new screen real-estate. 4K may come later but coming on the heels of 3D, launching a new TV format with no existing content library is unlikely.

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