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TV programs have come to the Internet, and the Internet has gone to mobile devices. Now the Internet is coming back to TV, and savvy software engineers and smart TV producers are finding ways to create new "hybrid" services that bring it all together. Which is why the rumored "iMac television" and, down the pike, the "iTV," would make sense.
New NPD In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com) research forecasts that 100 million households will actively use a hybrid service delivered to their TV set by 2016.
The next step in the viewing experience will be for TV sets and set top boxes to permit all of the traditional TV-related services, which is then expanded and enhanced by bringing in content from the Internet, or from Internet-like web services that provide a "walled garden" of authorized content and on-screen features, says Gerry Kaufhold, research director, NPD In-Stat. The research group notes that personal computers are still the primary display device for viewing videos from the Internet. And none is better suited for that than the iMac with its big, impressive screen.
Last December n a note to clients -- as reported by "Forbes" (http://macte.ch/qmKzI) -- Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair predicted that Apple will bring some features of its rumored "iTV" to the iMac this year, in effect allowing the all-in-one to double as a television set. Apple hasn't announced ANY plans to make an iTV (an Apple-branded HDTV), but I'm hopeful.
Blair thinks that a redesigned iMac in the first half of 2012 could be an intermediate step on the way to the iTV. What sort of redesign? An all-in-one with built-in Apple TV software and iCloud features.
"We think this makes sense because while we typically think about the newest TV’s hanging on the wall in large form factors, Apple could effectively start with what they already have on the manufacturing line and slowly push their offering from 27 inches and scale up from there to 32 inches and then move on to the 42, 50 and 55 inch market," Blair writes. "In short, we believe the initial Apple TV is their iMac computer that can function as a TV, over the iCloud platform."
Blair admits that he's speculating, but there's some precedent to hint that Apple might make such a move. Up until Lion, Mac OS X came with Front Row, software that provided a full-screen media display to allow easy access to content while interacting with your Mac via a remote control. (The remote control is no longer standard with a Mac, but can be ordered for US$19.99). Front Row debuted on the iMac in 2005. It could easily be revived.
Note that Blair did correctly predict in September that Apple would introduce just one new iPhone model this year with a design largely the same as the iPhone 4. His forecast came when most other analysts were calling for the iPhone 5 and/or a low-end iPhone model geared toward emerging markets like China.
I like the way Blair reasons, and I hope he's on the money again. I often watch TV and videos on my 27-inch iMac. However, this involves some work involving Elgato/EyeTV products (which I love, by the way) and a Dish/Slingplayer combo. It would be very convenient to have TV functions built into my iMac.
-- Dennis Sellers