NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A Forrester Research analyst made news on Thursday for saying something I have been writing about for months regarding Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) forthcoming iTV or whatever the heck it's going to be.Frankly, without the ability to access Steve Jobs, I am not sure Tim Cook even knows what it's going to be.
Let's be clear what the company is up against in its long-rumored interest in the TV business. The reason it has failed with the Apple TV so far is not that it hasn't tried. It's that the TV business is a tough nut to crack: Content is still controlled by monopolists unlikely to give Apple the keys to their content archives. And simply introducing a new display on which to watch that content as it is currently delivered by existing distributors won't offer consumers much that's new.
While Apple strong-armed the music industry into doing exactly what it wanted . . . that act will not fly with the TV and movie guys. Apple pulls sway with wireless carriers to subsidize the living heck out of iPhone because it operates from a position of massive strength in that relationship. It might even be able to take cable and satellite companies to the cleaners to subsidize iTV. When you look to the owners of premium content, however, Apple is really not all that different than Netflix(NFLX).We agree on the basic premise: Apple has had and will continue to have trouble striking deals with content providers. At best, if it plans on merely beaming content through a nice-looking television set, it will have an incomplete, and not all that compelling, offering. If this is indeed where things stand right now -- Apple at a stalemate with content providers -- expect iTV, iPanel, whatever to fail miserably. When I say "fail miserably," I mean along the lines of Ping or the present iteration of Apple TV. Granted, companies like Dell (DELL) would take this type of miserable failure with a smile. For goodness sake, Netflix has developed an entire company around the notion. That's why, in the above-cited article from last month, I expressed near certainty that Apple must have something else up its sleeve. If Steve Jobs did not leave detailed marching orders for how to proceed -- and even if he did -- Tim Cook faces his biggest challenge as CEO of Apple in a post-Jobs world. In fact, Cook sits on the cusp of making or breaking the dominance of the company Jobs built and Cook can only hope to sustain. I am not yet sure if I agree with McQuivey's take that iTV will not be a television at all. He envisions "the world's first non-TV" with "apps that serve as the hub of family life -- complete with shared calendars, photo and video viewers, and FaceTime for chatting with grandma . . . ." He would position the non-TV to hang on a wall in the room where a family congregates most.