Mon, Sep 07, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Apple event expected to focus on iPhones, TV

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Apple is expected to unveil updated iPhones on Wednesday along with an Apple TV revamp that might signal a push into online television streaming dominated by Netflix.

Apple remained quiet even as rumors ran rampant about what is in store at the San Francisco media event.

In trademark enigmatic style, invitations provided little more than the time and place of the event, to be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium near city hall. A line on the invite reading “Hey Siri, give us a hint” led many to believe that virtual assistant software Siri, which is built into Apple devices, might help people find shows or movies on Apple TV.

Apple TV is also believed to be getting its own App Store, which would be open to outside developers who can make games and other content for it.

The third-generation Apple TV was introduced slightly more than three years ago. The California-based company long downplayed Apple TV as a “hobby” after the original version was released in 2007.

“They are finally revisiting their hobby, the Apple TV,” Forrester analyst Frank Gillett said.

Apple is dabbling with the idea of making online television programming in a move that would challenge established players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, according to a recent report in show-business magazine Variety.

“There is a definite movement toward cord-cutting, and Apple is in position to do that,” Gartner analyst Van Baker said.

“They have the premium content lined up, so the real differentiator is to bring network television to the platform,” he said.

“Original programming is the only solution to Apple’s biggest problem in the video world: nobody wants to sell Apple content rights,” Forrester analyst James McQuivey said.

“After watching what happened to the music business when Apple was given the keys to the kingdom, video producers and programmers are more than gun shy about handing the same power to Apple in the world of TV shows,” he said.

Apple became a power to be reckoned with in digital music sales due to the popularity of its mobile devices and iTunes online shop.

While Apple was at the forefront of the shift to digital music, the world of Internet-streamed television already has powerful players.

“Apple’s opportunity to shape the market is gone, they’re just joining this program already in progress,” McQuivey said.

Data gathered by Forrester indicated that 19 percent of US adults who use the Internet are interested in or use Apple TV. That percentage jumps to nearly a third when it is limited to online adults aged from 27 to 35.

While bringing Siri to Apple TV would be noteworthy, the analyst did not see that alone as being enough to get people to rush out and buy the hardware.

“Siri hasn’t taken over the phone and it won’t take over the TV either,” McQuivey said.

“In the case of TV it’s because there really aren’t things other than search that voice can help with, and you don’t need Siri to do voice search,” he said.

Amazon’s Fire TV products feature an “elegant voice search button that’s dead simple to use,” he added.

An iPhone update unveiling is considered a sure thing at the media event, since the company has a pattern of doing just that every September.

“We are going to get the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, or whatever they are going to call it,” Baker said.

Improvements are expected to include faster processing and better cameras, with Apple having made photography a strong part of its offering, according to Baker.

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