You know Apple will make a really great TV set, but if it ends up giving you the same programming you already pay for, at the same price, will you pay a premium for their flashy new box?
That’s the scenario Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente sketches out in a new note. He figures that Apple could certainly come up with a cool piece of hardware — he imagines one that looks like a “large-scale iPad” — that would tie together the Internet with Apple’s existing suite of iOS apps and services.
But DiClemente doesn’t think Cook will be able to break open the traditional cable TV bundle. Which means that if you watch TV on Apple TV, it’s going to look a lot like the TV you’re already watching now. And it will cost the same to get that stuff to your set.
DiClemente isn’t a hardware guy, he’s a media analyst, so his report focuses primarily on the difficulty he thinks Apple will have trying to disrupt the TV programming/distribution business the way they’ve disrupted other industries.
Here is some of his speculation about the new device:
- He doesn’t think it’s coming in 2012.
- He thinks it will use Apple’s Siri voice control as a “groundbreaking interface.”
- He imagines it could sell for $1,500.
- He thinks it could be “so much more than a TV — including gaming, video communication, content delivery, apps, computing and all the capabilities of the current Apple TV.”
The big problem, DiClemente argues, will be when it comes to the programming part.
He believes that TV programmers have no incentive to stop selling the bundles they’re already selling for big dollars. The “affiliate fees” that cable providers pay for the bundles are now up to $30 billion a year, or about $30 per subscriber per month. Programmers are not going to do anything to weaken that stream of revenue.