It has been said that Apple does not enter a market except to completely revolutionize it. The MP3 player market, the smartphone market, the tablet market - none of these were invented by Apple. There were MP3 players before the iPod, smartphones before the iPhone, and tablet computers before the iPad. But with each product Apple effectively remade the market and established a dominant place in it.
Now, according to Accedo CEO Michael Lantz, is what Apple is about to do to the television market with the rumored (but not confirmed) iTV. In a statement emailed to BGR, Lantz claimed that "[t]he TV set industry is in crisis mode." He argues that while set manufacturers are working to cut costs and add features they are ignoring design. This, he said, creates "a wide open market slot for a high-end design led Apple TV set." Such a TV, he said, could be sold by Apple for between $2000 and $3000 "with unprecedented margins.
Of course, the iTV is still very much a rumor at this point. Apple has not confirmed anything. Nevertheless, the rumors in recent months have been coming from increasingly reliable sources - including Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs's biography. According to Isaacson's book, Jobs claimed that the iTV was among the last things he worked on at Apple, and that he "cracked it" shortly before his death in October of last year.
According to Lantz, though, the functionality of the iTV is not the primary concern. At a minimum it will have the functionality of an Apple TV integrated. What's really important, though, according to Lantz, is Apple's design. He argued that the iTV "will sell on superior design and quality of the actual TV set." The fact that Apple has a "natural sales channel" in their retail stores and significant "market momentum" will help sell the TVs.
When the second generation Apple TV released in 2010, a device that Steve Jobs had famously called Apple's "hobby" quickly became serious business. Since then, there has been speculation that Apple would jump the rest of the way into the TV market with their own HDTV set. In recent months, though, the rumors have picked up steam, to the point that it's pretty clear that Apple really is working on bringing this device to market. If Lantz is right, then Apple could make a pretty huge splash in the television market. Of course, it seems unlikely that the iTV will bring the kind of revolution that the iPhone and iPad brought to the smartphone and tablet markets. Neither smartphones nor tablets were devices with much consumer appeal before Apple came along. Apple's main contribution was making devices that appealed to consumers and not just business users. The TV though, has always been a consumer product first, meaning that Apple will face a more traditional competition in the TV market.
That said, if the iTV really is coming this year, it's a distinct possibility that the television market could be about to change in a big way.