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Imagining a future with Apple's TV

Jean-Louis Gassee, a VC and former Apple exec, blue-skies an outline of Apple's possible television plans.

What does Apple have planned in the TV space?
What does Apple have planned in the TV space?

All the recent speculation about a possible Apple television has prompted Jean-Louis Gassee, an Apple exec from way back who's now general partner of venture-capital firm Allegis Capital, to offer a provocative vision of what Apple's set might do.

For example, Gassee isn't so convinced that Apple will want to develop an "integrated television" that features many of its services. After all, he says, consumers don't typically replace televisions "after 18 months" like they do with a smartphone or tablet. What's more, he's not sure Apple will want to get into the business of carrying and supporting televisions in its stores.

"Furthermore, I still don't see a 50-inch TV set walking out of an Apple Store," Gassee said. "It's hard enough to carry a 27-inch iMac out--or back in when trouble strikes. And I don't see battalions of Apple field service people coming to our homes to fix these things."

Realizing that, Gassee says, perhaps Apple is working on something more akin to its current Apple TV. However, that device could only succeed if it can "swallow the set-top box, DVD included," he says. But even then, Apple might have some trouble. After all, as Gassee points out, in that scenario, Apple would need to ink deals with cable companies--"business that are more numerous, less sophisticated, and more afraid of Apple than are the wireless carriers."

If that doesn't work, what else can Apple do? According to Gassee, there are several options, including turning the iPad and iPhone into remotes or selling a "mediating device" that works between the iPhone and the user's television. But as with the other options, major pitfalls could await Apple if it follows those paths.

So, what will the future hold for Apple's television plans? There's no telling. And as expected, Apple isn't talking.