Speculation that Apple would release their own HDTV set sooner rather than later have gotten a boost from an unlikely source. Michael White, chairman of DirecTV, predicted that Apple would be launching their own TV, but that he didn’t feel his company had anything to worry about.
According to Variety, White was speaking at an investors’ conference in New York. White denied that Apple would be able to disrupt the existing TV market enough to present companies like DirecTV with a genuine threat. Discussing rumors that Apple would be unveiling an update to the Apple TV operating system, White said that Apple is “going to launch something, maybe in the next two weeks,” but that “it’s hard to see [it] obsoleting our technology.”
White’s reasoning depends a lot on the fact that media companies aren’t likely to allow Apple to offer the kind of a la carte channel subscriptions they reportedly want to offer. Of course, the FCC is currently considering a rule change that would take that decision out of the media companies’ hands.
What’s really interesting here is how very much White’s predictions about Apple’s chances of “obsoleting our technology” sound like the kinds of things people were saying about the iPhone’s chances of success in 2006 and early 2007, and about the iPad in 2009. Plenty of people expected both products to fizzle. On the other hand, both products were aimed at taking a traditionally non-consumer oriented device and bringing it into the consumer market. The HDTV market, though, is a bit different: it’s already a consumer oriented-market, and a fairly saturated one, at that. So there’s a good chance that White is right, and that Apple really won’t do in the TV market what they did in the smartphone market. A lot will depend on how the FCC comes down on that rule change, and a lot depends on the TV market’s response to whatever product Apple offers.