You probably haven’t heard of a German company called Loewe. The high-end TV maker hasn’t done so well at selling ultra-expensive HDTVs as of late, and its peripheral business isn’t doing so hot either.
It’s amazing to see how Apple can affect the stock value of another company. After a debunked report from last year claimed that Apple was planning to buy Loewe, yet another acquisition rumor has sent Loewe’s stock soaring to new heights. And just like the first time, the situation is all smoke and no fire.
Apple buying out any company is a big deal, but it’s especially a big deal if that company happens to specialize in making TVs. The rumor mill has been predicting an Apple HDTV for years, so anything that could connect Apple to that drumbeat is worth examining. But in the case of Loewe, all we’ve gotten is some insane stock manipulation.
This time around, Loewe’s shares have jumped over 40% today due to a rumor that says Apple will make a bid to buy the company again. “Apple supposedly wants to bid 4 euros a share for Loewe,” according to an anonymous “trader.” The rumor has caused Loewe’s legitimate share value to hit nearly 4 euros, which is ridiculous when you consider how the rumor is completely baseless.
Loewe reported 29 million euros in losses last year, and its market cap wasaround 37 million euros before this latest Apple rumor hit the wire. Even at Loewe’s post-Apple-rumor valuation of 53 million euros, buying it out would be a drop in the bucket for Apple’s $100+ billion cash hoard. But an acquisition still doesn’t make sense. Apple has no reason to buy a luxury TV maker from Germany that’s bleeding money.
The stock swing is ironic when you consider how Apple has taken such a pounding on Wall Street in the last several months. Apple itself is disappointing investors, but anything the company is rumored to touch turns to gold. Makes perfect sense.
Jefferies’ Peter Misek, the face behind almost all of today’s Apple rumors.
It’s been a crazy day of rumors. Rumors about iPhone 5 sales slipping, the iPhone 5S coming out this summer, an Apple TV event in March, an iTV launch in September, and something about the 4.8-inch iPhone 6 being “delayed” until 2014. Busy day… but all of that info came from one guy, Peter Misek. And that guy is basically the Digitimes of analysts when it comes to correctly predicting Apple’s next move.
As an analyst for Jefferies, Mr. Misek has a long and comical history of making some crazy claims about Apple’s future plans. Who can blame him? It’s his job to predict the future of Apple so investors can make decisions. The problem is a huge amount of his predictions were wrong, especially when it comes to the Apple HDTV, where Misek has (so far) been almost universally off-point.
Here’s a run-down of some of Misek’s “greatest” predictions.
Prediction:In April 2011, Misek said Apple was going to launch a “far reaching” video service to disrupt traditional TV businesses. Misek’s main argument was that Apple’s new data centers are too big to be just for music, so they have to be for a new video service.
Reality: Apple launched iCloud in October 2011 along with iTunes Match in November 2011.
Prediction: In September 2011, Misek claimed that Apple threw away a million units of a product called the “iPad 2 HD”" and would simply launch the iPad 3 in January.
Reality: Apple launched the iPad with Retina in March. There has never been any evidence to suggest they made a million iPad 2 HDs.
To be fair, Misek has got some predictions right over the last few years. For example, he predicted the name of the iPhone 4S when everyone else called it the iPhone 5, that it would boast HSPA+ speeds, and that it would come to Sprint.
More often than not, though, Misek’s track record is just comically wrong, especially when his famous pink elephant — the rumored Apple HDTV — is concerned. If you ever see an Apple rumor with Misek’s name attached, take it with a huge lump of salt. We’re not saying he’s always wrong, but this is not the kind of informed source with a flawless track record you build your newsday around.
It’s December, a traditionally slow news month, and it seems this December is even slower than most, because even organizations as solidly grounded in reality as All Things D are now posting elaborate wishful thinking exercises about what the much rumored Apple HDTV will actually be. This one, however, is more interesting and plausible than some… at least in a few key regards.
Jeremy Allaire, the founder of Brightcove and creator of Flash, has written an intriguing piece on the Apple HDTV, which he believes will be sold in two SKUs: one as an impressive, integrated and upgradeable monitor, the other as a $149 set-top box.
I’m usually very skeptical of claims that Apple will take a set-top box approach to the Apple HDTV, which I explain in detail here. However, Allaire makes an excellent point that a powerful set-top box might be necessary in order to get momentum going:
A new companion device for TV that starts at $149, attaches to nearly any existing TV, and does not require customers to buy an expensive new monitor. This is crucial for quickly establishing and maintaining platform dominance quickly and even stand-alone could be a $5-10 billion opportunity.
The secret sauce, according to Allaire, is the existing iOS app ecosystem:
Crucially, the new Apple TV will extend nearly every existing iOS app into being a TV app that brings the power and richness of large display surfaces to consumer computing — a task that nearly every industry titan has attempted and failed. The combination of touch and TV will ignite a new era in dual-screen software application design and development in which it will become hard to believe that Internet software was once based solely on PCs, phones and tablets.
One of the claims that Allaire makes I find most convincing is that the Apple TV won’t have any bizarre or elaborate control methods. No voice control, no motion control. Instead, the iTV would leverage every existing iPad and iPhone out there as a remote control.
Here’s where Allaire’s argument becomes problematic, though:
With the iPhone, Apple created a simple “phone” application on top of existing telephony carrier infrastructure, improving the consumer’s user experience and creating an additional product sales opportunity for carriers. The company will take a similar approach to existing broadcast cable TV, and in so doing, put one or two major U.S. cable operators in the same privileged position that AT&T enjoyed following the iPhone launch. Around the world, cable TV distributors will battle for national sales and marketing rights for the Apple TV.
This simply isn’t going to happen. Cable companies have watched what happens when other industries sign all of their power away to Apple, and they show absolutely no signs of following the same path. If Apple could get cable providers to duke it out for exclusive rights to the Apple HDTV, why aren’t cable companies chomping at the bit? Why are they, by all reports, being extremely unreceptive to Apple’s attempts to strike a deal?
Cable companies have no interest in becoming a dumb pipe, which is what signing away their rights for an exclusive deal with Apple would entail. It would be an extremely shortsighted move at this point, and there’s plenty of precdent in the iPhone and iPod to show the cable industry what would happen to them if they struck a deal with Apple’s devil.
The rest of the piece is interesting, and well worth a read. There are also a series of beautiful renderings of what Allaire thinks the Apple HDTV will look like. I’m guessing it’s a slow month at Brightcove too.
What do you think of the Brightcove CEO’s theory? How will Apple make the iTV a reality? Let us know in the comments.
On Tuesday I went to a party at San Francisco’s Cafe Du Nord to celebrate the launch of Fuze For Mac, a nifty cloud-based videoconferencing tool from FuzeBox.
I heard several interesting things about Steve Jobs and some intriguing Apple TV rumors. One of the rumors made me think that Tim Cook’s new Mac — the one that is going to be made in the U.S.A. — might actually be a big-screen Apple TV.
Here’s what I heard:
The software was developed at the behest of Steve Jobs himself, who persuaded FuzeBox to make the software not just for the Mac, but for an upcoming Apple TV.
Steve Jobs gave the company a special dev lab on Apple’s campus.
According to FuzeBox’s CEO, the upcoming Apple TV has a 60-inch screen. It has no inputs whatsoever, except an AC power cord. No wires. You can’t plug in a cable box or a game console. Nothing.
It does have Gigabit wireless Wi-Fi and gesture controls, equivalent to Microsoft’s Kinect accessory for the Xbox.
And finally, the story of how FuzeBox got an ultra rare meeting with Steve Jobs is worth telling — details below.
Now, I’m the first to admit that not all of this adds up. I got it from Jeff Cavins, FuzeBox’s CEO, who told a good tale, especially after I’d had a couple of pints. While I was fascinated and entertained, it didn’t get to pin him down on details. The party was loud and crowded, and we were constantly interrupted. So mostly for entertainment purposes, this is what he said:
FuzeBox’s software allows coworkers to conduct meetings remotely and collaborate via high-definition video, even over cellphone connections. Unlike competing products, the platform is cloud-based, which eliminates a lot of perfomance bottlenecks. I got an impressive demo.
The videoconferencing software was developed primarily for mobile — iPads, iPhones and Android devices. There was version that ran on desktop Macs and PCs, but it was Flash-based.
In 2010, FuzeBox’s Head of Sales, Brook West, sent an email to Steve Jobs requesting a meeting to show him the platform. Jobs replied 15 minutes later with a curt one-liner — he doesn’t do meetings.
West replied that he should make an exception because this was the software that would get the iPad and iPhones into enterprise, a vastly lucrative market. Again, Jobs replied immediately that he wasn’t interested in enterprise; he was interested in consumers. West fired back that this is was a big mistake. Enterprise is nothing but 10,000 consumers who all work at the same place. If Apple can get just one of those consumers — the CEO — they have the whole company. Jobs conceded and invited FuzeBox for an ultra-rare personal pitch meeting at Apple’s campus.
According to Cavins, Jobs became an avid user of the software during the last few months of his life. He used it to interact with his team at Apple when he was too sick to go into work. (I didn’t get a chance to ask why he didn’t use Apple’s own FaceTime. Presumably it was because FaceTime is designed primarily for one-to-one conversations, where Fuze can handle up to 100 participants.) Jobs was so impressed with the software, he urged FuzeBox to make a native Mac version instead of using Flash. As we all know, Apple has been moving away from Flash for some time. But Cavins was skeptical. Why invest resources in the Mac? While the Mac is healthy and growing, it is still a niche platform. Without spelling out all the details, Jobs said they should do it for a future Mac-based product, an upcoming Apple TV.
Cavins said he never saw any hardware, and Jobs and his team didn’t provided scant details. However, according to Cavins, the Apple TV will have a 60-inch screen. It has no inputs or outputs whatsoever except a power cord. It has only Gigabit Wi-Fi. Cavins said there are filings with the FCC referencing a Gigabit wireless device (we’re checking on this). Apple was tipped to offer 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi devices this year (like a new Airport Extreme basestation) but hasn’t yet done so. The new 802.11ac standard promises three times the speed of the current 802.11 Wi-Fi, and is just starting to roll out. Several manufacturers already offer routers. It is expected to be widespread by early 2013
Cavins said the upcoming Apple TV is gesture-controlled, like the Kinect. It can also be controlled by the iPad, like the current, hockey-puck Apple TV. Apple does have patents for gesture controls, including a sci-fi 3D holographic system (see the image above). Here’s a mockup video showing how the a similar virtual keyboard might work on the iPhone:
Cavins’s account clashes slightly with previous reports. Last year, we reported that a source had seen a prototype flat-screen AppleTV that was controlled by Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistmant, not Kinect-like gestures. Of course, it may be controlled by both gestures and voice. (And maybe even a remote control. Minimal, of course.)
Cavins also mentioned that there may be a large, touchscreen iMac coming for the workplace. This iMac would feature a multitouch screen instead of gestures. However, we were interrupted before I could question him more about this. But this morning, it was the first thing I thought of when Tim Cook said Mac manufacturing would be coming back to the U.S. After all, most TVs sold in the U.S. are assembled in Mexico, largely to save on shipping costs. It’s cheaper to assemble big, flatscreen TVs just across the border than ship them from China. Perhaps this is why Cook has said one of the Mac lines will be made domestically?
John Brownlee’s Note: I’m super skeptical of all of this, so Leander invited me to say a few words at the end of his piece to outline why. You can find my rebuttal to this rumor on the next page.
Apple CEO Tim Cook just didn’t talk with Businessweek today in an unpredecented interview, he’s also going to be on NBC’s “Rock Center” tonight talking to Brian Williams… and in a new preview of the upcoming episode, Tim Cook has hinted strongly that Apple will be entering the HDTV market sooner rather than later.
Here’s a quote from the Rock Center preview over at NBC’s website:
What’s next for Apple? Did Cook leave us with a clue?
“When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook told Williams. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”
Presumably, Tim Cook actually has an Apple TV set-top box, so he’s not talking about that. He’s talking about an actual television set, not a box or other peripheral.
Of course, as intensely interested as Apple might be in producing a real television set, it might be hard to enter the television space. Previous reports have indicated that as much as Cupertino wants to get into the HDTV game, the existing cable companies and content owners don’t want to make deals under Apple’s terms, having seen what Apple has done to the music and smartphone industries before them.
This guy really believes that Apple is making a HDTV.
Gene Munster, everyone’s favorite Apple analyst, spoke at Business Insider’s IGNITION Conference today in New York City. One of the topics Munster hit on was the Apple TV. For years, Munster has been one of the biggest proponents of Apple releasing a literal TV. His most recent prediction pushed the product’s announcement to the end of next year, while last year he predicted that Apple would start shipping in early 2013.
Apple’s real plans for the living room remain to be seen, but today Munster explained his reasoning for why Apple didn’t announce a HDTV this year.
Speaking at our IGNITION conference this year, Munster said he spoke with sources in the Asian supply chain about Apple’s television plans. Those sources said that Apple had requested a specific type of screen for a TV, an indium gallium zinc oxide or IGZO screen. Manufacturers were having trouble making that screen for a big-screen TV.
IGZO is the hot buzzword in display tech right now because of its energy efficiency and ultra-high pixel quality. Sharp will debut the first mass consumer device with an IGZO display when it ships its 7-inch Aquos Pad tablet next month. There was some speculation that Apple may put an IGZO display in the iPad mini, but the company went with a cheaper LED instead.
Considering how new and untapped IGZO tech is in the supply chain right now, it would make sense for there to be issues if Apple has indeed requested orders for 42-inch+ HDTVs. Is display tech the only reason Apple hasn’t shipped its mysterious TV product? Of course not. There’s also all of the tedious licensing negotiations with Hollywood that haven’t been closed. Hardware is far from the only problem at this point.
Then there are the rumors saying Apple is merely working on a new set-top box to supplement the cable providers. It’s hard to separate wishful thinking from what’s really going on at this point. Munster may be reporting a little of both.
In recent months several reports from Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and most recently Jefferies seem to indicate Apple is in talks with cable companies for a new Apple TV related service. Whether that service would center around a next-generation Apple TV setup box, or a mark Apple’s introduction of the much rumored Apple HDTV, it depends who you ask. There are still a couple analysts betting on an Apple TV set in the near future. Peter Misek of Jefferies is one, estimating sales of 4.9 million units in CY13, and today Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster is once again adding to the rumors…
Munster, who has many times in the past predicted a full-fledged Apple HDTV, reported in a note to clients today that Apple will launch a TV set in time for the 2013 holiday season (via BusinessInsider). Not to be confused with a possible refreshed TV set-top box, Munster believes Apple will release an HDTV somewhere between 42-inches and 55-inches and priced between $1,500 and $2,000.
Perhaps more interesting than the Apple TV rumor, is Munster’s claims that Apple is set to launch a new radio service in March of 2013, possibly alongside a Retina iPad mini. As for the rest of Munster’s 2013 roadmap for Apple… In June 2013, he is predicting previews of iOS 7 and OS X, as well as new Retina MacBook Airs.
Munster’s other not so surprising predictions from the note:
…an iPhone 5S in September as a “modest upgrade”, and possibly a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad that would closer resemble the design of the iPhone 5 and iPad mini.
Gene downs his white wine in a single gulp and calmly smashes his first-gen Apple TV through his Samsung TV screen. "It's over," he says.
Apple’s been working to make the Apple TV “more than a hobby” for a long, long time now, but it looks like it won’t happen this year, with a new report saying that a new Apple TV — whether a full HDTV or a new set-top box with content deals from the cable system — definitely won’t happen this year.
About a month ago, The Wall Street Journalreported that Apple was in talks with the biggest U.S. cable operators that would let them use their Apple TVs to stream live television and other content.
Bloomberg now reports that those talks don’t seem to be going well, with a source familiar with the company’s plans saying Apple “won’t be releasing a new TV product this year.”
Mostly, it appears that the cable operators — having learned a lesson about what happened to the music and telecom industries when they negotiated with Apple — don’t want to let Apple into the living room on anything but onerous terms, and Apple would rather not release a mediocre, crippled product (a la the GoogleTV) instead of revolutionizing it.
Until Apple can get the cable companies to play ball, its TV set will remain a rumor.
While we’re almost certain Apple is working on its own television set, when it will launch is a complete mystery. Initially it seemed the set could make its debut before the end of 2012, and then reports pushed the release date back until 2013. Now according to a new analyst report, it’s unlikely won’t be adding an Apple HDTV to your credit card bill any time soon.
Why? Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue has reportedly indicated to analysts that there’s still a lot of work to be done with content providers.
Following a meeting with Cue and Apple’s chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer on Wednesday, Pacific Crest’s Andy Hargreaves issued a “company update” to clients today. It read:
An Apple Television Appears Extremely Unlikely in the Near-term
Relative to the television market, Eddy Cue, Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services, reiterated the company’s mantra that it will enter markets where it feels it can create great customer experiences and address key problems. The key problems in the television market are the poor quality of the user interface and the forced bundling of pay TV content, in our view. While Apple could almost certainly create a better user interface, Mr. Cue’s commentary suggested that this would be an incomplete solution from Apple’s perspective unless it could deliver content in a way that is different from the current multichannel pay TV model.
Unfortunately for Apple and for consumers, acquiring rights for traditional broadcast and cable network content outside of the current bundled model is virtually impossible because the content is owned by a relatively small group of companies that have little interest in alternative models for their most valuable content. The differences in regional broadcast content and the lack of scale internationally also create significant hurdles that do not seem possible to cross at this point.
Hargreaves’s note confirms that Apple is indeed working on its own set, but that it isn’t willing to just push out a product that is incomplete without those deals from the cable providers. And as we know from previous reports, Apple appears to be having a hard time trying to get those providers to play ball.
It’s been successful with record labels and carriers in the past, but it appears cable companies are a tougher nut to crack. Because of this, we’re likely to be waiting a long time yet for the Apple HDTV.
Editor’s Note:This post has been revised since it was first written to correct an erroneous assertion that it was Eddy Cue himself who said an Apple HDTV wouldn’t be coming. We apologize for the error.
In a series of tweets summarizing a new (and still unpublished on the Internet) report by Jefferies, Apple’s forthcoming HDTV is said to already be in full production, and will be sold with a carrier subsidy from AT&T and Verizon. They estimate that two million will be sold in 2013.
The summary comes from Twitter user Sammy the Walrus IV, a self-described “engineering and finance cynic navigating Silicon Valley and Wall Street.” The report itself is still unpublished, so take the summary with a grain of salt for the time being until it’s available online.
Jefferies: iTV (full television) is in full production. Apple will partner with AT&T and Verizon. Will sell set-top boxes for Comcast etc.
Jefferies: We are including 2 million iTVs in our model (assuming early 2013 release) at an average selling price of $1,250.
Jefferies thinks you can either buy a premium Apple television and use AT&T or Verizon for content OR buy just a cable box for Comcast etc.
Jefferies has historically been very bullish about the forthcoming Apple HDTV, predicting earlier this year that it would be called the iPanel and cost $1,250, and that Apple would build five million of them by the end of the year.
We scoffed at that prediction, but lately, reports on the forthcoming Apple HDTV have been picking up steam, with the Wall Street Journal reporting over the last few days that Apple’s forthcoming HDTV product would blur the lines between on-demand and live TV by recording and replaying everything from the iCloud.
Sammy the Walrus IV speculates that if Apple partnered with Verizon & AT&T under a subsidy model for the new iTV in order to sell their high-speed UVerse and FiOS broadband offerings, Apple could make $2,000 off of every $1,499 HDTV sold.
Interesting to say the least. There’s starting to be a lot of smoke about the Apple HDTV, with the recent Wall Street Journal story having all the hallmarks of a strategic leak by Apple itself. How long until we see the iTV announced on stage?