Steve Jobs' Final Gift? An Apple TV Set Could be on the Way

The Steve Jobs authorized biography by writer Walter Isaacson was released yesterday, and one little tidbit from the book has the technology universe and cord-cutters around the world completely riveted.

Before he died, Jobs told Isaacson he had been working on one final game-changing invention - a wirelessly synched Apple TV set with "the simplest user interface you could imagine."

Sure, sure. We know, we know. Apple already has Apple TV, the small, convenient set-top box that allows you to access all kinds of streaming content by hooking it up to your TV or a monitor.

At $99, it gives you great limited access to Netflix, iTunes and YouTube in a cheap stylish little box. But Jobs reportedly referred to that as like "a hobby" for the company, and the company has reportedly invested far more time and serious engineering resources into an actual wireless TV set.

According to Mashable, "the TV set could be accompanied by a cloud-based system that would allow users to access and search for content obtained through Apple and third-party services such as Netflix."

The idea, according to a Bloomberg source, "is to let users more seamlessly search for a show or movie...For example, instead of having to separately check to see if a movie or show is available through Netflix or a cable service, all the material could be integrated." easy source for finding and watching all your streaming television in one spot? Why does that sound so familiar?

Beyond Apple TV

Apple has reportedly put real engineering talent behind taking a more serious approach to evolving the wireless streaming television universe. Bloomberg reported today that the company "is turning to the software engineer (Jeff Robbin) who built iTunes to help lead its development of a television set, according to three people with knowledge of the project."

Not only is Apple lining up talent for the project, but according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, "Apple has a prototype TV in the works." The same analyst said that the company is investing in enhancing manufacturing capabilities and procuring LCD screens to accomplish Jobs' final vision.

While it's fundamentally difficult to assess the impact a true Apple television set might have on the market, it almost seems inevitable.

As we here at Yidio have certainly realized, television as we know it has already been fundamentally altered by streaming video providers like Netflix and Hulu, iTunes, DVRs, mobile applications and social media.

As both wired and wireless broadband has become a reality for consumers globally, they've begun to whole-heartedly embrace the possibilities of legitimately watching the television they desire when they want, where they want and on whatever device they choose.

And then there's the cost savings. While it's still not easy to get access to the whole gamut of the television world without having an actual cable subscription, it's getting easier and is certainly way, way cheaper than receiving a monthly cable bill.

Screens for Every Occasion

With all of this change, one thing has remained constant. Friends and families still like to huddle around a large screen, kick back on the sectional with a bowl of popcorn and watch their show du jour.

Since Apple has already succeeded at owning the tiny screen market (iPod Nano), the small (handheld) screen market (iPhone), the middle sized screen market (iPad) and the large screen market (MacBook), why not aim at the extra-large-screen market?

Of course, in all those cases, Apple brought remarkable design innovation and seamless integration with the other products, applications and markets in the Apple universe, and you can expect more of the same should an honest-to-God Apple TV set come to fruition.

As Brad Spirrision, Managing Editor for mobile app discovery service Appolicious told us, an Apple TV could provide a whole new exciting playground for application developers.

"I'm intrigued with what kind of apps developers will ultimately create for the product. We've been seeing interesting TV titles for Google and Opera, but neither will have the distribution or sizzle of a real Apple TV that will have Steve Jobs' DNA."

One of the more intriguing Apple app-based innovations that could make an Apple TV set particularly interesting is Siri, the cool new futuristic voice-guided artificial-intelligence-like system embedded in the new iPhones.

Could an Apple TV set serve as the virtual nerve center for a voice-guided computer sytem that runs your home? Was Steve Jobs leaving us with our own personal home-based Hal 9000 before he died? Gulp.

I Know It's Not Built Yet but When Can I Buy One?

So when will this alleged Apple TV set come to market?

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted a release sometime in late 2012 or 2013, though Apple hasn't released any public information on the subject whatsoever.

Either way, there should be plenty of time to save up for one after blowing all that cash on a new iPhone 4s.