Apple (AAPL) rocked the smartphone industry when it launched the iPhone in 2007 and it built an entirely new market when it released the first truly successful consumer tablet in 2010. Next stop: TV. Rumors surrounding Apple’s imminent entrance into the television industry have been swirling for more than a year, and recent reports suggest Apple may enter the market first with a new version of Apple TV capable of replacing cable companies’ set-top boxes, followed by the launch of an own-brand HDTV. Cable service providers reportedly aren’t yet sold on Apple’s vision but according to Barclays, they would be wise to jump on board as soon as possible.
TV is big business, but major players could be in trouble as the current trend moves content consumption off of the big screen and onto portable devices. Live TV is seemingly losing its appeal for many who prefer to watch content on-demand on laptops and tablets, and Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes says Apple is the only company with the potential to step in and reroute content back to the big screen.
“We believe consumers would welcome such a product from Apple as well given that many younger customers seem to be watching content on demand on smaller screens (iPads, laptops) in private places – and only Apple seems to be the company that can redirect that content back to the big screen,” the analyst wrote in a recent note to investors.
In terms of getting service providers and content companies to play ball, Reitzes does acknowledge that no contracts have been signed to date according to reports. Since Apple is seemingly the only company that can push content back to the big screen, however, the analyst says providers have a big incentive to team up with the Cupertino, California-based company.
“The trend toward ‘small screen’ viewing seems to be providing less advertising revenue than traditional ‘big screen’ viewing under the current cable TV model, so Apple may hold the cards in being the only company that can fully monetize the small screens for big media companies,” Reitzes wrote. “The risk of not partnering with Apple is that as young people may ‘cut the cord’ given the cost of cable and that a screen connected to an Apple TV with AirPlay can provide a substantial array of content, with the exception of in-market sports and recent TV content (unless purchased on a per episode basis through iTunes).”