The long-rumored Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) television still isn't showing any signs of making a debut. But a growing number of rumors are suggesting the tech giant does, indeed, have some ambitious plans for invading our living rooms -- as if it hasn't invaded them enough -- just not via a physical television set. Apple's approach to disrupt the way we watch TV, unsurprisingly, is increasingly looking like it will come through a revamped Apple TV, or the company's Internet-connected little black box.
A revamped Apple TV this year?
The soon-to-be completely revamped Apple TV narrative garnered more substance on Friday when BuzzFeed reported Apple is planning to launch a new version of the device in June at its World Wide Developers Conference, citing "sources familiar with the company's plans." The revamped Apple TV set-top box will sport an app store, finally giving third-party developers access to the platform, BuzzFeed managing editor John Paczkowski asserts.
It will be a complete overhaul, Paczkowski says.
... expect an updated design and new innards: the company's latest A8 system-on-chip -- or a variant of it: a dramatic increase in on-board storage to accommodate app -- well beyond the 8GB in the current device; and an improved operating system that will support Siri voice control of Apple TV, and enable it remotely for a selection of Homekit-enabled home automation devices, as earlier reports have suggested. Presumably it will also feature a new remote.
The news of a revamped Apple TV follows a recent report from The Wall Street Journal saying Apple is planning to launch a web-based TV service this fall. And this Journal report builds on a surprising announcement from Time Warner's HBO earlier this month that it will offer its content as a stand-alone service on Apple TV without requiring a cable subscription.
An Apple TV update would end an extremely long update cycle for the device. The last time Apple introduced new Apple TV hardware was March 2012.
Apple is taking TV seriously
Apple has teased its interest in TV for years, but the company's interest has grown recently. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook stopped calling TV a "hobby." And the company recently dropped the price of Apple TV from $99 to $69 in an effort to attract more users.
Apple provided further insight into its Apple TV business during its Apple Watch event earlier this month. Following HBO CEO Richard Plepler's onstage announcement of its stand-alone HBO service for Apple TV during the event, Apple CEO Tim Cook called Apple TV a "category leader," citing 25 million units sold to date. And hinting at ambitious plans in the future, Cook teased: "Apple TV will reinvent the way you watch TV. And this is just the beginning."
If Apple can successfully build a robust platform of apps on Apple TV, as well as a content library that rivals cable offerings, the company could spark the beginning of a massive wave of cord cutters. And importantly for Apple investors, a stronger Apple TV business could provide revenue and earnings upside for Apple that is arguably more reliable and sustainable than its more speculative product revenue.