Forrester: Apple’s new TV won’t be a TV at all

May 24, 2012, 1:48 PM UTC


FORTUNE — James McQuivey, writing on his Forrester Research blog about Apple’s (AAPL) widely anticipated entry into the full-fledged TV market, had me convinced.

Up to a point.

What he says about the current situation — except for the use of the word “failed” — struck me as smart and fair:

“The reason it has failed with the Apple TV so far is not that it hasn’t tried. It’s that the TV business is a tough nut to crack: Content is still controlled by monopolists unlikely to give Apple the keys to their content archives. And simply introducing a new display on which to watch that content as it is currently delivered by existing distributors won’t offer consumers much that’s new. Remember, unlike in the phone business where the iPhone penetrated quickly, the TV upgrade cycle takes 7 years. You can’t jump in with a new version of the same thing everyone already has – even if it is elegant – and expect millions of people to buy it, especially at price points that Apple will have to maintain in order to keep its margins far away from those of LG and Samsung. Apple’s only shot to sell such an expensive device quickly is if it does something very different. And that’s what I hope Apple will do.”

OK so far.

It’s when McQuivey turns to the device he expects Apple to build — he calls it the “iHub” — that he loses me:

“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.”

This bears a striking resemblance to what Jefferies Peter Misek called the “iPanel.” And where there’s analysts’ smoke, I suppose there could be fire.

But a 32-inch panel affixed to a wall? Controlled by gestures and voices? Used by millions to chat with grandma?

I just don’t see it. And call me crazy, but I’d rather put my faith in Sir Jony Ive, not some Forrester analyst, to design Apple’s next big thing.

See also: Tell me again. Why do we think Apple will make a TV set?