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Apple’s new 4K TV signals its ambitions to overtake Hollywood — and your living room


For over a decade, Apple TV has been the middle child of the Cupertino tech giant’s product lineup. Despite its early entry with the goal of disrupting cable television in 2007, Apple TV has been slow to innovate and has fallen behind competitors such as Roku.

But for Tuesday’s special event, Apple is expected to unveil its fifth and newest TV model since 2015. The new Apple TV is expected to be compatible for both 4K and high-dynamic-range resolutions, which are both far sharper than standard high-definition resolution.

Apple TV, however, no longer exudes any of its once-lofty expectations. Rather than being the TV disrupter it meant to be, Apple plans to use the new TV as a hardware base to grow its recent ambitions of producing original content to challenge Netflix and others, analysts say.

In addition to the Cupertino tech giant’s content push, the TV can serve as a complement to the recently introduced HomePod home speaker to give an immersive Apple experience in one’s living room.

“If Apple wants to be competitive, they have to go all in,” said Creative Strategies’ consumer tech analyst Carolina Milanesi. “The reason you would have Apple TV was to navigate content an easier way, but more and more smart TVs and cable providers are getting better at giving what you want. With a new Apple TV, original content is a box you need to tick to be taken seriously.”

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Apple has just started producing or acquiring original content but has been moving aggressively. Its first two shows, “Planet of the Apps” and “Carpool Karaoke,” received mixed reviews after being released on Apple Music earlier this year. With plans to spend $1 billion in original content in 2018, Apple has brought a cadre of Sony executives to lead its programming ambitions and has been looking to set up a base in a movie studio that produced “Gone With the Wind” and “The Matrix.”

Last week, Apple showed it is willing to keep up with the Hollywood powerhouses by entering a bidding war to win distribution rights to the upcoming James Bond movies.

“In five years, I bet Apple will either be investing $10 billion a year in content or zero,” Loup Ventures managing partner Gene Munster told the Associated Press. “It’s going to be one or the other.”

Some analysts say the target for Apple TV may not be Netflix and its original content empire but rather Amazon and its Echo speaker. While not confirmed, they expect the TV and HomePod to be synchronized as part of the larger Apple ecosystem.

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While the HomePod was introduced as a music-focused speaker rather than a smart home speaker at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, it was a ploy to take the pressure off Apple’s newest product, said CCS Insights analyst Geoff Blaber.

He expected more information to come out about the HomePod Tuesday in conjunction with the TV.

“Apple deliberately kept the feature sets for the HomePod very quiet in the WWDC,” said Blaber. “The reason the Apple ecosystem is successful is because they are nicely integrated. You’d certainly expect a degree of compatibility, like a Bose sound bar or a Sonos connects with a television.”

Photo: Apple TV in 2010 at the Yerba Buena Arts Center in San Francisco. (Maria J. Avila Lopez/Mercury News)

Tags: apple tv, HomePod