Former Apple executive sounds off: Interesting words or sour grapes?

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Who is Jean-Louis Gassée? Well, according to the World Wide Internet, he is a former executive at Apple. He worked there from 1981 to 1990. If you look at certain spots of the web, you may read that he was eventually forced out because he wasn’t good at coming up with new ideas. If you look at other spots, you may read that he left to begin a business venture centered around creating a new form of computer from scratch.

If you look on this blog, you’ll see my picture in the top right corner (what’s up with that weird part in my hair?!).

Anyway, on Monday, Jean-Louis Gassée was the man screaming from the mountaintops about how he believes Apple’s TV venture may be null and void. From Monday Vote …

“I simply don’t believe Apple will make, or even wants to make, a TV set,” he wrote. “To realize the dream, as discussed previously, you need to put a computer — something like an Apple TV module — inside the set. Eighteen months later, as Moore’s Law dictates, the computer is obsolete but the screen is just fine. No problem, you’ll say, just make the computer module removable, easily replaced by a new one; more revenue for Apple … and you’re right back to today’s separate box arrangement. And you can spread said box to all HDTVs, not just the hypothetical Apple-brand set.” 

Wait. We’ll keep going …

“So why is Tim Cook talking about Apple TV at all?” Gassée asked. “The simplest explanation is that he’s simply answering an interviewer’s question. Possible … but not likely in such tightly choreographed exercises. A cheekier possibility is that the answer is a head fake. Cook, a noted College Football fan, is trying to draw Google offsides, to provoke them into yet another embarrassing Google TV moment. And maybe even goad Microsoft into another WebTV dud.”

Gassée then goes on to admit that the latter statement is probably unlikely. He then notes that the company will more than likely keep pumping money into the product until something is figured out. He says Google’s next product will be “much sharper,” and he says that Microsoft is happy with its Xbox and the advances it has made toward flowing television programming through its game console. He says something nice about Sony, asks why Apple even cares at this point, and sews the whole thing up by looking at the proposed marriage between Apple and Comcast.

Forever and ever Amen.

So … is this just sour grapes from a former employee or a viable opinion from someone who knows what he’s talking about? Rumors have been grumbling and rumbling for months now that Apple will eventually release The Perfect Internet Television (which is something we already know from the constant posts about it on this, here, blog, right?), and Tim Cook, the new Steve Jobs, recently noted how the medium is an “area of intense interest.” It’s hard to believe that all this huffing and puffing would ultimately amount to exactly one, big nothing.

Dan Farber, of CNET, said the same thing when citing analyst Gene Munster’s recent words about said phenomenon …

“The average consumer just wants a better experience with their TV. People like all-in-one products, like a TV,” Munster said. “The selling point will be the user interface, fixing the remote control problem, voice control, apps, games, and FaceTime,” Farber then proclaimed. “How does FaceTime even work?” I asked.

Nobody answered me.

Look, the reality is that Apple will someday figure out how to revolutionize the world of television. That is the closest thing to a foregone conclusion the word of web TV could possibly see. But Gassée’s line about how he doesn’t even believe the company wants to move forward with its plans is … provocative, don’t you think? I mean, this is Apple we are talking about here. This isn’t a lemonade stand that might shut down once mommy realizes why there has been five bucks missing from her purse each morning for the last two weeks.

Disgruntled or not, this is a statement that simply feels like it has to be considered at least somewhat seriously. Nobody has called out The Big Black And White Machine on a possible television product quite like this. Gassée’s points may be just more in an absurdly long line of people weighing in on this stuff, but even so, one has to wonder if they may resonate as time goes on and the public continues to see no advancements in Internet Television Domination.

Thus we ask: Will 2013 just be another year in television history that provides us with nothing more than sports highlights, Dick Whitman and The Weather Channel? Or will 2013 be the year Apple finally puts its golden touch on the world of web TV?

Oh, the anticipation!

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