, and everyone can feel it.
A big term heard again and again this year was “4K,” which refers to the next visual step up from HD. Basically, it’s a screen that packs twice the pixels as current-generation HDTVs. 4K is supposed to be the next big revolution in TV. A few years ago, they said the same thing about 3D. Before that, OLED was all the rage. In addition to 4K, this year Samsung touted a curved TV display, while others packed features into their sets, connected TVs to the Internet, loaded them with apps and services, and so on.
These upgrades are fascinating, but… Isn’t the revolution running kinda late?
It reminds me of the netbook craze from a few years ago. Every computer company known to man invested in these scaled-down laptops made for surfing the web. They were supposed to be an entirely new class of product, something that would revolutionize mobile computing. And then the iPad came along, sending netbooks to a very fast death.
How many times have we seen this pattern? Electronics companies groping around in the dark, desperately searching for some hot new feature to hook customers with — until Apple steps up to introduce something that not only solves all of the problems with those previous products, but changes the game altogether. The iPod. iTunes. iPhone. MacBook Air. iPad.
Apple is, right now, working on something that will revolutionize television. You know it, I know it, and all those electronics makers are certain of it. They’re all hedging their bets right now, trying hard to produce a game-changing TV that will beat Apple to the punch. But they don’t get it anymore now than they did when Steve Jobs was still alive.
What made Jobs such a great innovator wasn’t impressive new tech specs or his proclivity for the importance of design (though Apple has always been impressive at both). Steve Jobs was the great innovator of our time because he saw the future. He had an uncanny knack for identifying the elephant in the room that no one else even realized was there, and then coming up with a solution and paring it down to its simplest, most elegant essence. He changed the entire paradigm of several industries this way, turning them on their heads.
No one knows if Apple is planning an actual television set or some kind of peripheral box or what. But we know that whatever it is, it came from Jobs’ mind before he died. Whatever he dreamed up for TV wasn’t about upping specs on what was already there. It was about transforming the user’s experience. Whatever Jobs “cracked” in regards to TV, it’s something that will change the very foundations of the television industry.