Frankly, no one has really sold me on why Apple should build a TV aside from its portable set-top box called “Apple TV.” With 7-year upgrade cycles and razor-thin margins, it seems as if Apple would be hard-pressed to introduce something noticeably better than a current high-end HDTV coupled with its Apple TV box (sure, Siri and gestures could run through that box too).

Forrester’s James McQuivey, though, has a creative idea:

Here’s me putting on the record what I’ve been telling clients behind closed doors for over a year: Apple should sell the world’s first non-TV TV. Instead of selling a replacement for the TV you just bought, Apple should convince millions of Apple fans that they need a new screen in their lives. Call it the iHub, a 32-inch screen with touch, gesture, voice, and iPad control that can be hung on the wall wherever the family congregates for planning, talking, or eating — in more and more US homes, that room is the dining room or eat-in kitchen. By pushing developers to create apps that serve as the hub of family life – complete with shared calendars, photo and video viewers, and FaceTime for chatting with grandma – this non-TV TV could take off, ultimately positioning Apple to replace your 60-inch set once it’s ready to retire.

If you think about it, my proposal takes advantage of everything Apple has going for it: Its base of super-engaged customers, its bevy of hungry developers, its ability to open our minds to the possibility of post-PC computing form factors, and its spectacular track record with generating elegant experiences that teach us to do things we didn’t know we needed. In fact, I want this so bad I can almost taste it. That’s why, if what Apple releases later in the year falls short of my admittedly high expectations and I will probably come off as less impressed than others. I’ll be comparing whatever the company eventually sells to a glorious and welcome revolution that only Apple could incite.

This is the first idea that has actually made sense to me. With LCD/OLED panels getting cheaper, lighter, and requiring less energy, and a big touch interface to boot, I think Apple could make an interesting product out of this. At 30-inches, you could hang it on a wall or pop out a kickstand on the table. Perhaps it is the type of screen for bedrooms, dining rooms, and kitchens, as well as outdoors and for conferences.

Combine the iPad’s touch gestures with some help from Siri and a wall-type interface, and you might just have the type of disruption that has made Apple famous.

Come to think of it, all of Apple’s iconic/disruptive products have been portable. The Mac, the Powerbook, the original iMac, every iDevice…heck even the Mac Pro has handles for some reason.

(via Forrester Research)

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Seth Weintraub

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