NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If, following Carl Icahn's open letter to Tim Cook, you had hopes of buying an Apple (AAPL) television set anytime soon, you're likely to be disappointed. But that doesn't mean Apple won't still eventually control your living room.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has put aside its plans to reinvent the television set, noting the company could not come up with a killer feature to differentiate the set from those already out there from the likes of Samsung (SSNLF), LG, Sharp and others. The television set market is a $565 billion-a-year industry, according to Apple shareholder Carl Icahn, whose letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asked Apple to buy back even more stock than it already is, and said he expects Apple to introduce an ultra-high-definition TV next year.
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Apple has been able to reinvent consumer electronics markets before, including the MP3 (iPod), the PC market (Mac), the tablet market (iPad), and most notably, the phone (iPhone). For the iPod, the game changer was iTunes, while the App Store has been the game changer for the iPad and iPhone. It has also added design, aesthetics, ease-of-use and simplicity to help grow these into multi-billion dollar businesses.
Despite the fact Apple's plans for a television set appear to be on hold, the company still has grand plans for how viewers consume content at home.
Apple still offers its Apple TV set-top box, starting at $69, with much speculation the company will refresh it at next month's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Among the new features the set-top box is expected to get is its own dedicated app store, as well as Siri, giving it access to voice navigation, similar to what Amazon's (AMZN) Fire TV has.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is also in talks with several content providers, including Walt Disney (DIS) as TheStreet first reported, about launching its own bundle of channels to compete with the likes of Sling TV, owned by DISH (DISH), as well as similar packages from cable and telecom companies.
On an April earnings call, CEO Tim Cook heaped praise upon Time Warner's (TWX) HBO Now, a new over-the-top (OTT) service for which Apple is currently the exclusive hardware partner.
"HBO Now has been incredibly popular with Apple TV users since its debut, and it has been one of the top downloaded apps on the U.S. App Store as well," Cook said. At the end of the call, Cook expanded on that sentiment, emphasizing that the marriage of Apple and HBO Now is about putting great content on Apple TV, inside Apple's ecosystem.
Apple has been able to reinvent the aforementioned hardware markets before for a variety of different reasons. One key thing that separates them from the television market, though, is people do not buy new TV's frequently, making it a potentially less lucrative market that Apple appears to be happy to let Samsung, Sharp and others duke it out over.
Even if Apple never offers its own TV set, there is more than one way to skin a cat and win the living room -- with Apple betting that software is the way to go.