Can Apple conquer the American living room?

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

Apple currently dominates the MP3 market and has successfully wooed the masses with its shiny lineup of iPhones. But is Steve Jobs ready to conquer American living rooms with his next-gen Apple TV?

Well, iSuppli principal analyst Jordan Selburn believes Apple's redesigned set-top box fits right into the "new wave" of Internet-enabled living room devices entering the market.

"These [set-top boxes] allow consumers to access movies and other content directly from Internet portals such as Netflix and Amazon - a model that [definitely] competes with current broadcast television methods available through cable or satellite TV," Selburn told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

Can Apple conquer the American living room?"[So clearly], Apple's second-generation product is expected to make a renewed pitch to penetrate the living room, following three years of lackluster sales since the Apple TV was first introduced in 2006."

However, he emphasized that the $99 device would be forced to contend with a host of competing players boasting an extensive range of versatile features.

"The [market] is currently populated by Internet media players with optical drives like Blu-ray, video game consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation, [as well as] standalone media players like those from Roku, Vudu and the forthcoming Boxee Box from D-Link.

"Furthermore, Apple TV must compete against newly available Internet-enabled TVs offered by a growing number of brands. These sets allow consumers to access Internet content without the need for an intermediate device, like a set-top box or game console."

Selburn also noted that Apple's TV campaign would likely be affected by the relatively slow growth of the digital living room, which has been "bogged down" by a number of issues.

Can Apple conquer the American living room?"[For example], there are many boxes. Each is connected to the ultimate consumption device of the display - but only rarely are the boxes connected to one another.

"Sure, the 'connected home' is connected to the outside world, but the idea of seamless access remains far from the ideal paradigm of ubiquitous access to content.

"[Still], Apple's expected new bid to revitalize its TV - which Steve Jobs had called a 'hobby' in the past - will likely make things that much more interesting. Apple [may very well] have a product capable of raising the stakes higher for the digital living room - and for everyone else involved."