3 Questions About Apple's iTV and Honest Answers From a Long-Term Bear
You can argue that somehow this time it will be different, but you cannot ignore the numbers. Year-over-year, iPod sales are down 25%, while iPhone and iPad trended up 85% and 132%, respectively. The latter two had a more profound impact and will, without question, sustain longer than iPod. However nothing lasts forever including those two excellent devices' dominance.
With Steve Jobs around, the market would have had the same questions about the future. With him gone, these uncertainties gain more of the spotlight.
Will iTV Be Subsidized?
Earlier this year, a story out of Canada flew somewhat under the radar. It reported that Canadian media and telecommunications giants, Rogers Communications(RCI) and BCE, Inc.(BCE) were testing an iTV prototype while in talks with Apple to serve as carriers of iTV north of the border. The same story included speculation from an analyst that AT&T(T) and Verizon(VZ) would be U.S. carriers.
This notion of "carriers" for iTV makes the distribution model sound a lot like the one for iPhone. This brings up a load of questions regarding subsidies and access to content.
Will telcos be willing to subsidize iTV to the level they do iPhone? I highly doubt it. And, if it's not going to be a telco-subsidized product, will Apple subsidize it itself like Amazon.com(AMZN) apparently does with Kindle Fire? Or maybe there will not be any subsidy at all, which, given the probable $2,000 to $3,000 price point, makes this thing dead on arrival, relative to iPhone and iPad.
Will iTV Even Be All That Unique?
In the same article out of Canada, the Globe and Mail noted that, while you might think a Rogers and Bell hook up with Apple would hurt the country's number three telco, Telus(TU) , it might not. Something the paper said piqued my interest:
... Telus is on the brink of unveiling new technology that would give its customers the ability to control its Optik TV product through voice commands and hand gestures. Those new features could be facilitated by existing Xbox 360 hardware and would position Telus to be first out of the gate with such an offering.