Rumours persist of a new TV from Apple. Image: Apple
Rumours of a new TV set from Apple continue to grow, and US blogs and commentators are giddy with talk of a ‘game changing’ intervention that will ‘destroy’ the cable business.

I’m sure it could, in America. But what, if anything, could Apple bring to the UK TV market?

As I’ve remarked before, the existing Apple TV set top box is the most disappointing Apple purchase I’ve made, largely because Apple have refused to localise the box to provide UK-specific services and rolling out useful features to the UK has taken ages.

Hell, it’s not even bothered to correct the spelling of ‘theatre’ in the menus!

So how would a device designed to take on the US cable giants fare in a country where cable is a minority product and where multi-channel free TV services more than hold their own against Sky, the biggest pay-TV provider?

One suggestion I’ve heard is the ability to allow you to pay only for what you want to watch.

That’s a nice idea, but it’s hardly revolutionary here in the UK – BT Vision already provides just that service, as will YouView (which BT backs) when it launches next year.

Which doesn’t mean Apple can’t also offer this service, just that it’s not going to be the radical departure from the norm that the more excited commentary predicts.

And what about the basic features UK TV viewers expect from their TVs?

Will Apple include a Freeview tuner in their set?

If it does offer live channels (as it presumably has to?) can Apple offer Red Button services? Virgin Media are still fending off complaints for bringing the TiVo to the UK without it.

Would people buy an internet-enabled TV which lacked the UK’s free catch-up services – iPlayer, Demand 5, 4oD and ITVPlayer? Without these, the Apple TV would lag behind fairly cheap Blu-ray players and games consoles.

And if Apple did add catch-up services, could it bring itself to play by the BBC’s fairly strict rules controlling the look and implementation of the iPlayer and BBC content?

Few, if any, of these points have been addressed in the acres of coverage and speculation surrounding the rumoured new device but, if Apple hope to sell more than a few sets here in the UK, they will need to have answers and solutions to them.

However, going by their current offering, there’s nothing to suggest Apple ‘gets’ the TV industry outside of of the US or that that’s going to change anytime soon.



  1. Martin Hoscik says

    Hi Faid –

    There are already integrated Digital TVs and web-enabled TVs, what do you see Apple integrating into theirs that others aren’t?

  2. Stephen Whiteley says

    ‘most disappointing purchase’ ?? it has been one of my best purchases
    1/ Stream your photos from your iphone with music
    2/ Use photostream so all photos are already there after a day out
    3/ rent movies
    4/ rent tv shows and series
    5/ Play all music from your home theatre via iCould / iTunes Match
    6/ Watch Youtube and other videos
    7/ Use it as a giant photoframe of the family
    8/ its’ 99 friggin quid/dollars

    it is constantly being updated and expanded. TV will now move to the cloud, you will be able to buy what you want but you won’t need the raw files. It will just flag on the cloud that you have bought it and stream it to you. This is how jobs cracked it! and the content owners will love it. Apple are going to take over the living room!

    Most disappointing purchase of the year? was your other purchase a Ferrari for 5 dollars!?*

  3. Martin Hoscik says

    Hi Stephen

    It’s great you like your Apple TV.

    FYI in the UK the box only gained the ability to play TV shows purchased from iTunes last week which is also when iTunes match launched.

  4. Stephen Whiteley says

    Yes I know it is – you can also add to this the ability to stream Iplayer to ATV2 from your iphone via the IPlayer app. It’s obvious they are going to keep updating this thing though.

  5. Martin Hoscik says

    Yes, but while pushing is perhaps just about acceptable on a £99 box, I’d expect a more expensive TV to have native support, just as many other web-enabled TVs and Blu-ray players do.

    To move into a mature market like TV and web-enabled TV sets, Apple has to offer something which marches and beats current offerings. Who will buy a £400 iPad just to get iplayer on their £400-£500 TV when rivals offer it built in?

  6. Stephen Whiteley says

    Think it depends how much people have already ‘invested’ in the Apple ecosystem. I don’t have to buy an IPad to get IPlayer on my TV because I already have an Iphone and I just run the IPlayer app on that, as could millions of other people. So if they don’t have a TV with everything built in, £99 quid for that and all the other features would seem like a good price. .

    It’s not just about TV though, it is about music, photos and tv – all integrated with Airplay.

    Apple may beat the others yet, they have a huge investment in iCloud. You will own everything without having to manage the files, the discs, the subscriptions – watch what you want to watch, pay for what you want. Content owners will love it as their raw content will never be delivered to the owner. As you can see with TV shows, this is the model they are now pursuing. Throw in more content, put in a bit of siri and make the most stylish simple tv ever with OTA updates – they may just do it yet

  7. Stephen Whiteley says

    Oh and maybe the BBC won’t have Iplayer on Apple TV, maybe they’ll just throw up their TV shows on Apple TV within the current format and make them free for 7 days. So might the others. Same outcome but it is also in an area where viewers can buy similar shows – it puts BBC straight into a market to sell and not just delivery of free viewing. This is probably why no-one is in a rush to push IPlayer to ATV

  8. Robert Bridge says

    @Martin Hoscik
    “FYI in the UK the box only gained the ability to play TV shows purchased from iTunes last week which is also when iTunes match launched.”

    In other words although you knew the box had gained the ability to play TV shows purchased from iTunes, you neglected to include it in your article?

    I can’t help feel that this article is one sided, mostly because you fail to include the great features on Apple TV. In my opinion you over-exaggerate the simple tweaks needed to turn the set top box into an actual TV.

  9. Martin Hoscik says

    “I can’t help feel that this article is one sided,”

    I suppose being accused of unfair negativity makes a change from being labelled an Apple Fanboi, which is what normally happens!