Apple (AAPL) has conquered the multimedia device market with the iPod, the smartphone market with the iPhone, and the tablet PC market with the iPad. It has not, however, entered one of the largest consumer electronics businesses -- TV. That may be about to change. VentureBeat writes "Apple is almost certainly working on a digital television based on its iOS operating system, according to multiple sources in Silicon Valley."
An Apple TV, which would run the company's operating system, would allow people to do many things with their televisions they cannot do now. The most important of these would probably be the ability to run Apple apps. This would permit consumers to download applications from Apple's store which has hundreds of thousands of products. The Apple TV would allow people to switch from Facebook to Google to their calendars all on one device in the living room.
Apple's risk of failure is greater than it was in the multimedia, smartphone, and tablet markets. The iPod was launched into market in which multimedia devices were cumbersome and a great deal of music was pirated. The iPod was a first-of-its-kind device with seamless controls. The related ITunes store was a single stop shop for what became thousands and thousands of songs, all available at one place.
The iPhone was released when the smartphone industry was in its early stages. It was a sector dominated by Research in Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry, which was much more a business device than a consumer one. Apple was able to use its iPod brand success to sell the iPhone. And, the much-used Google (GOOG) Android operating system reached the market well after the iPhone was far down its road of success. The iPad was also early into the tablet PC market. It benefited from the wild popularity of the iPhone and the App Store--a ready place for consumers to personalize their tablets.
Apple's risk is that the TV market is already crowded. A number of large consumer electronics companies make screens. More importantly, the television in the consumer's home is already attached to an array of powerful boxes from NetFlix (NFLX), cable companies, satellite TV firms, and game console manufactures which include Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE).