The key to the Apple TV puzzle

There is an ongoing debate about whether Apple will release a physical television or an enhanced box similar to what we have now. People on both sides of the debate square off every few weeks and rehash the same arguments. Ultimately, we get nowhere, but I think that’s because nobody is asking the right question.

There is no doubt that Apple is interested in the television market. While it is a hobby, they have kept it around for quite a while. That says to me that they see something in the future, we just don’t know what that something is.

Tim Cook has already said that Apple has an intense interest in the market, but while everyone is arguing about what size Apple’s television will be, I can’t help thinking what problem Apple will solve. For me, that is the key question.

Apple has transformed itself into a problem solving company. They did it with the iPhone, iPod and iPad and I think that’s what they will do when they enter the television market in a serious way.

Here’s the thing. Apple will not enter a market unless it feels it can make a significant impact on the current state of the industry. They will want to provide something different than what’s currently available, something that nobody else can do. Apple has the power to do that because they think about how to solve problems first and making money second.

Some have speculated that an Apple product will have Siri integration or maybe television channels as apps. You could argue that both of those ideas have some value.

There are significant problems to overcome in the television industry, but one of them is not what size TV will be released. Having content available for the consumer whenever they want it is a problem we would all like to see solved.

But that’s just one problem — there are many others.

The impact of Apple entering the television market will not be whether they release a physical television or a box — those are only the vehicles1 that will deliver the innovation that Apple will bring to the industry.

  1. Of course, the hardware Apple uses as a delivery method could include innovations of their own. Siri integrated into the hardware is one example.