Aug 162010

A lot of people think Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is one of the best on the Apple beat. I’d have to agree, but with the quality of analysis out there, that title is kind of dubious. Although I will admit that Gene typically does more research than your garden-variety Apple hack, his latest prognostication about the AppleTV becoming an actual TV, is wrong.

Slightly off-topic, you’ll notice that the above link takes you not to Munster’s musing, but to an All Things Digital article about Munster’s musing. You see, you can’t access Gene’s brain except through a paywall. This is annoying as hell.

Back to (what I can piece together from stories about) Munster’s article. Apple is rumored to be making a dumbed-down AppleTV, perhaps called the iTV. The rumors that this product exists and that it carries the same name as the UK’s oldest commercial network are each responsible for approximately 1 billion stupid Apple-related stories in the past week. Gene is far from the first to report on the rumored iTV, but that won’t stop him from using it to manufacture a nonsensical conclusion based on it. Here’s Munster’s logic, in a nutshell:

-Apple makes a product called the AppleTV, a set-top device capable of playing content purchased from iTunes as well as streaming content you already own. There will soon be a successor to the AppleTV that costs less and does less.

-Apple is building a server farm in North Carolina.

-Apple will offer a television with an integrated Apple media device “in 2-4 years”.

Compelling. To drive his point home beyond question, Munster offers a little price comparison between a $1,999 Apple Television (with a $50 – 90/month iTunes “TV pass”) and all the devices it will replace, including:

  • a 40″ LCD TV: $1,199
  • a Blu-Ray player: $149
  • a cable TV box w/cable service $85/month
  • an audio receiver: $129
  • a DVR: $249 + $12/month
  • a Game Console: $249
  • Cables: $40

So Apple will make a product that incorporates one technology that it has explicitly stated it has no interest in (Blu-Ray), one partnership it has explicitly stated it has no interest in (cable TV), one technology that is already heavily patented (Tivo) and five markets that it doesn’t currently compete in (LCD TVs, cable, receivers, DVRs, and game consoles (no, the iPod/iPhone games don’t count, sorry)). There are some Apple-branded cables though, so Gene’s list isn’t totally without respectable precedent. And he does have “2-4 years” for his prediction to come to fruition, so who knows? I could be taking my fart-powered hovercraft to the Apple Store in 2015 to pick up two.

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