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Apple Inc. Still Can't Seem to Crack That 'Code'


Apple's elusive TV set hits another snag, but hardware has nothing to do with it.

Shortly before he passed, Steve Jobs gave the world the ultimate "One more thing..."

In Walter Isaacson's biography on the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) co-founder and former CEO, Jobs claimed he had "cracked" the code on delivering an integrated TV set with a unique and as-of-yet undisclosed distribution system that would revolutionize how the masses consume content.

"It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine," Jobs told Isaacson. "I finally cracked it."

Ironically, the masses do have a device that delivers content in a dead-simple interface and, although lacking in hefty features, it's proven to be a hit with users at an attractive price point. It just happens to be manufactured by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). (See: Google 'Cracked the Code' Before Apple Could.)

But unfortunately for Apple, the company still can't seem to find the secret decoder ring that Jobs used to crack that code.

In another dismal and disappointing status update to the elusive Apple TV set, NPD DisplaySearch's Paul Gagnon reported that the company is unable to finalize the content deals it needs to position itself with a unique offering in the market. As of now, it appears we won't see the launch an Apple TV set until 2015 at the earliest.

"To offer truly unique product differentiation that would allow Apple to capture market share from existing smart TV brands, they would need to either deliver some exclusive source of content that the other brands cannot, such as a la carte pay-TV channels, or proprietary content not available on other devices," Gagnon writes. "Neither of these is easy to achieve, and our sources indicate this is one of the principle reasons for the delay in the project."

Indeed, failed content negotiations have plagued Apple since the earliest reports of an Apple TV set -- as well as the current Apple TV set-top box -- and is perhaps the biggest reason why Google TV was unable to make a splash in the smart TV industry. Last year, CBS (NYSE:CBS) chief Les Moonves related a story in which he boldly rebuked Jobs' idea of a new content distribution system.

"I told Steve, 'You know more than me about 99% of things but I know more about the television business,'" Moonves said.

So, as long as the all-powerful media conglomerates refuse to budge from their antiquated yet profitable model, we'll have to make do with our Roku boxes and $35 Chromecast sticks.
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