Apple TV Will Change the Way People Consume TV Content: Report

Apple is working on a television we'll likely meet late this year, say Piper Jaffray analysts. In five years' time, they expect it to, cable companies be darned, change the way people consume content on their TVs.

An Apple TV is no longer a matter of if, but when, Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Douglas J. Clinton wrote in a June 1 research note, pointing to recent comments by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the biography of Apple€™s late CEO Steve Jobs and the firm€™s checks with component suppliers.

€œWe stand by our previously stated timeline of unveiling the TV late this year with a launch in the first half of 2013, six months following the unveiling,€ they wrote.

The pair additionally forecast a retail price between $1,500 and $2,000 for a TV with a display between 42 and 55 inches; for the new device to add between 4 and 8 percent to Apple€™s 2013 revenue; and for it to accomplish nothing short of revolutionizing how people consume content in their living rooms.

While physically an Apple television will be a €œstand-out centerpiece€ in a living room, with classic Apple styling cues like aluminum casing and minimal wires€”as well as an LCD, given the high cost of organic LED (OLED) panels€”it€™s the change to how consumers interact with their living room that will be the device€™s main selling point, say Munster and Clinton.

The television€™s interface will be its most important feature.

€œWe expect the TV to include Siri and compatibility with third-party devices, as well as potential integration with content guides, offering consumers improved control, which should lead to greater value from their monthly cable subscription.€

Cable companies may charge a fee for people to use an Apple television, similar to the $5 or $10 monthly fee they charge to rent the cable box. While Disney CEO Bob Iger has said that unbundling channels would make for a more expensive cable bill, Munster and Clinton believe that consumers are willing to pay more for each channel, but just the channels they want€”so long as their overall bill goes down.

Would cable companies ever let us get rid of the channels we don€™t want, at a savings to us? It€™s hard to imagine, but with a shake-up coming to the way things are done, maybe they won€™t have a choice.

€œThe bottom line is that we believe in five years Apple will have a significant hand in changing how people consume content on their TV,€ stated the note. €œWe know the end point: unbundled channels and DVR in the cloud.€

Another key benefit of the television, wrote the analysts, will be its apps and games offerings. They expect consumers will be able, through the App Store, to play games, listen to music and more, with games€”controlled by voice, the iPhone or the iPad to be a particular draw.

Still, at launch, they don€™t expect Apple to revolutionize the content industry.

€œUltimately, we believe that consumers and Apple want unbundled channels and more options including time shifting to watch content,€ wrote the pair, €œbut note that content owners are hesitant to change.€

Apple€™s Cook, agreeing to an interview at an All Things D event May 29, conceded that Apple€™s current television offering €œdoesn€™t solve every problem,€ as interviewer Walt Mossberg put it.

Television, Cook said, is €œan area of intense interest for us. €¦ We're going to keep pulling this string and see where it takes us. Many people would say that this is an area in their life that they aren't pleased with. ... It's an interesting area. We'll have to see what we do.€

It was one of his more expansive answers during a give-nothing-up interview.

Taking the stage, Cook expressed amazement over all the cool things Apple is working on, wryly telling his interviewers, €œNever have I seen the things I can€™t talk about today.€