An Apple TV: Steve Jobs Confided Plans Before His Death

PHOTO: This illustration made by Johnathan Mak shows Steve Jobs in front of the Apple logo.
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Steve Jobs, in his final days, told his authorized biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he was far from finished. One of the many technologies he still wanted to remake, he said, was your television.

Since Jobs had already reinvented communications (the iPhone), computing (from the Macintosh to the iPad), music (the iPod) and animation (Pixar), the tech world has been abuzz about a possible Apple TV since Isaacson brought it up.

In his book, Isaacson quotes Jobs: "'I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,' he told me. 'It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.' No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. 'It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.'"

So what did he crack? Is there really something in the works? Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co., says yes. Like most Apple products, he predicts, it will be simple, sleek, all-purpose -- and it has the potential to change completely the way you use your TV.

"Imagine a 40 or 50-inch iPad," said Munster. He said he envisions a system that understands voice commands, using Apple's new Siri virtual assistant, and spares you the trouble of fumbling with a clunky remote that always gets lost between the sofa cushions. If you want to watch an obscure movie, or play a game, or record the Titans game on Sunday, ask and the system will find it. No more finding the buttons to switch manually between video sources; the TV will put it on the screen for you.

Munster said he's met with component suppliers in Asia, and "I think the inertia is behind it." Parts are not yet being manufactured, he said, but there could well be an Apple television "in late 2012 or early 2013."

Munster said it will only work, though, if content providers -- TV program producers, video game makers and the like -- recognize its potential and make use of it. If they do, he said, it could be a threat to cable TV providers and manufacturers such as Sony and Samsung.

"Anyone who manufactures a high-end TV will get hammered," he said.

In an interview for Monday's edition of ABC News' "Nightline," Isaacson said Jobs "would love to find a way to do television. Apple has done it over and over again, but hasn't quite licked the simple, simple TV you want, you can pull out. And he said, 'I think I know how to do it,' but he never got the chance to do it."

Apple, characteristically quiet about new products, has not commented about what Jobs said to Isaacson. But Munster invoked Jobs' famous product rollouts, at which he introduced one groundbreaking product after another, always saving the biggest for last.

"Steve Jobs was the master at 'just one more thing,'" Munster said, "and this was his last one thing."

 
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