Sony’s Stringer: “No doubt that Apple is working on changing the traditional television set”


A rendition of an Apple-branded television set.

The WSJ reports that amid losing money on every television set they make, Sony somehow has a strategy for redemption. Stringer declined to provide details about what Sony is developing but said “there’s a tremendous amount of R&D going into a different kind of TV set”.

He he has “no doubt” Apple’s Steve Jobs also was working on changing the traditional TV set. “That’s what we’re all looking for”, he noted, warning “it will take a long time to transition to a new form of television”. Slim margins, low prices and little innovation make the business of researching, developing and marketing high-definition television sets a cutthroat one, he remarked:

We can’t continue selling TV sets [the way we have been]. Every TV set we all make loses money.

His company, Stringer said, spent the last five years creating an ecosystem to take on Apple, even though the company had seen little success with the Google TV platform and other connected television efforts:
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iTV

The moment I read the “I’ve Cracked the TV” quote from the Steve Jobs bio, I knew what the subject of the next few months at the rumor mill would be. Here it is in context:

“‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ [Jobs told Isaacson]. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’”

That seems to be a lot more certain than Jobs was last year at the D8 conference when he took a question from an audience member. In it, he laid out some very important things that no one is really talking about.


(Flashless)

The whole clip is much more fascinating than much of what I’ve been reading over the past week. The interface that Jobs is talking about isn’t whether Apple will use Siri or 3D gestures or not. It is how to put a layer on top of everything else with a consistent UI. He gets down to the nitty gritty at 1:30-3:00:

Add a box on to the TV system. You can say well gosh I notice my HDTV has a bunch of HDMI ports on it one of them is coming from the set-top box I’ll just add another little box with another one. Well, you just end up with a table full of remotes, clutter of boxes, bunch of different UIs, and that’s the situation we have today. The only way that’s ever going to change is if you go back to step one and tear up the set top box and restart from scratch with a redesigned UI and present it to the consumer in a way they’re willing to pay for it. And right now there’s no way to do that. So that’s the problem with the TV market. We decided what product do we want the most, a better TV or a better phone? Well the phone won because there was no chance to do the TV because there’s no way to get it to market. What do we want a better TV or better tablet. Well a better tablet because there’s no way to get the TV to market. The TV is going to lose until there is a better go to market, or there’ll just be a bunch of TIVOs. That’s the fundamental problem. It’s not a problem of technology, it’s a go to market technology.

So the question becomes: How is Apple going to “tear up the set top box” and start over?

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Analysts: Apple prototyping television set for a 2012 launch, but it won’t come cheap


Apple television mockup by 9to5Mac.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.” These are the exact words of Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs, as revealed in the just released authorized biography by Walter Isaacson. In his own admission prior to his death earlier this month, Jobs was working on “an integrated television set that is completely easy to use”, a solution which would be “seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud”. The quote served as the basis for Piper Jaffray’s resident Apple analyst Gene Munster, the most outspoken proponent of an Apple-branded television set. Munster wrote in a note to clients that Apple is already building prototype TV sets, according to a Fortune blog post:

A significant hurdle to a full-fledged Apple (AAPL) television set (as opposed to the Apple TV set-top box), Munster writes, is combining live television with shows previously captured on iCloud. “Perhaps this code is precisely what Jobs believed he has ‘cracked,’” Munter suggests, adding that Apple could use the new Siri voice activated system “to bolster its TV offering and simplify the chore of inputting information like show titles, or actor names, into a TV.”

If it eventually becomes a reality, the analyst speculates, the rumored product could cost up to $2,000, which is at least double the asking price for a typical 40-inch television product. In addition, Apple’s will likely require users to sign up for an iTunes TV Pass subscription service in order to enjoy bulk television programming, costing anywhere between $50 and $90 a month. It’s unclear whether the strategy stands a chance at a time when Internet providers are capping bandwidth. All told, the Apple television sounds like a pricey proposition…

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Comcast working on Slingbox type of home service called AnyPlay

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MacRumors points to a new service by Comcast which appears to mirror the functionality of a Slingbox or EyeTV, allowing a cable box to ‘Sling’ the video to an iPod around the house.

Currently, Xfinity customers can use the Xfinity TV app to watch On Demand programming, search TV listings, and schedule DVR recordings.

There is no indication of release dates or availability, but AnyPlay will be available in limited markets at first, and spreading to all Comcast customers eventually.

This is in contrast to their current app which streams on-Demand video over the internet to iPads which are on Comcast IP addresses with adjacent cable service.  Other US cable companies like Time Warner and Optimum offer Apps which stream many channels.

Check the red area above right for why this isn’t going to be very fantastic.

If you want this kind of functionality right now, but not tied to a cable company and their stipulations (and the ability to stream to devices outside your home without an extra cost), look into Slingboxes or El Gato’s EyeTV.

TNT, TBS, NBC now stream full length television shows and movies to iPad

Cable television channel TNT, owned by the Turner Broadcasting System division of Time Warner, has released an iPad app which gives you complete access to full-length television shows and movies aired by the network. As you’ve come to expect from similar apps, TNT for iPad lets you access behind-the-scenes videos, check out program guides and schedule reminders. It also integrates with GetGlue, Facebook and Twitter so you can pollute your friends’ social stream with the seemingly unimportant “I’m watching…” status updates.

Important caveat: Watching full episodes of television shows such as The Closer, Falling Skies and Rizzoli & Isles requires authenticating through your television provider. The TNT for iPad app is a free download from the App Store. Go past the fold for three additional screenshots of the TNT for iPad app.

NBC has also updated its iPad app with the same content found on the NBC.com web site. Yes, you can finally stream The Office to your iPad! Also, their TBS for iPad program does the same for Turner’s other shows, including episodes of Conan, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, available free on your tablet.

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Really, Sony?

Reader Elaine sends us this scene from a Costco

So I imagine there is a marketing meeting at the Sony Bravia offices a few months ago where they are brainstorming new ways to market this 46″ TV.

Someone steps up and says Apple is about to release a new OS and all of their boxes are going to have this ‘Galaxy Swirl’ thing on the cover.  Perhaps we can confuse a few people into thinking this is Apple/type/quality products.

Sure, its a different angle and view, but it is pretty clear what the intention was.  While this is probably legal and will certainly fool a certain part of the population, those who follow tech have to feel a little sorry for the once-great Sony, which is rapidly turning into an also-ran knock-off artist.

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Skype for iPad with video calling promotional video (update: it’s legit)

We’re not exactly sure what’s going on here, but Skype apparently posted a promotional video for an official iPad application this morning. The video has been deleted (if it ever existed) but it looks like the real thing, based on a purported  re-upload by RazorianFly. If legit, Skype for iPad looks amazing, has video calling, 3G and WiFi support, and an easy to navigate interface with animations and clean graphics. Real or fake?

Update: A Skype executive confirmed it’s legit to TUAW.

Try your luck below…

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