Apple's Missed Opportunity

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Apple has revolutionized the devices we keep in our pockets and invented the tablet category almost single-handedly. But these new devices are now areas Apple has to defend from growing competition from Samsung, Google , Microsoft , and others -- instead of playing offense, as it once did. Yesterday, it had a chance to play offense in the next battle, one over the living room, and missed a golden opportunity to seize the lead once again.

The next frontier
Tech companies have eyed the living room as the next frontier for years. Google TV was supposed to revolutionize how we consumed media. Microsoft and Sony have tried to take steps in that direction with gaming consoles, and even Apple has had the Apple TV "hobby." One of these days, a company is going to figure out how to control the living room and when it does, it will be able to spread outward into other devices. Apple had the chance to open up its Apple TV to developers yesterday and didn't take the chance.

Microsoft gave a preview of its living room vision when it announced Xbox One. The device is supposed to integrate with your cable, subscription services, movies, games, music, and more. The device will be able to take signals from Microsoft, iOS, and Android devices through smartglass.  

Google TV is installed on millions of devices and even though it hasn't been a smashing success yet, we know Google takes incremental innovative steps unlike the giant leaps Apple makes. I would expect Google to make improvements to Google TV considering its dominance in smartphones because the living room is the next logical step.  

Apple isn't the only one with its eyes on the living room and if it waits too long, it may be left behind.

Jobs' vision
Before he died, Steve Jobs said he had cracked the television, finding a way to integrate devices and the television and revolutionizing a media industry that's ingrained in the status quo. But it's been nearly two years since he said that to biographer Walter Isaacson and we have yet to see an iTV or revolutionary Apple TV hit stores.  

There's still some time
Apple is known for fast product launches but the reason yesterday was important as it was a developer conference. Apple normally gives developers some time to prepare for a new launch like Apple TV apps or an iTV, but no such announcement was made.

There's still time for Apple to get television right, but if it lets Microsoft or Google take the lead, it won't like playing catch-up.

More on Apple's strategy

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Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Google. It owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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