Early in the year Samsung wowed users at CES with it’s unveiling of the Galaxy Note, a 5.3 inch wonder with WXGA resolution or 1280x800. To put that in perspective, there are many 15 inch laptops with the same resolution. Apple for its part countered with the New iPad sporting a 9.7 inch display with 2048x1536 pixel density or a full 264 pixels per inch – the same as the iPhone 4s. The iPad boasts four times the number of pixels as the iPad 2 and one million more pixels than HDTV at 1920x1080 pixels.
It is worth pointing out that the iPhone 4 and 4S have a whopping pixel density of 326! The Samsung Galaxy Note has 285 pixels-per-inch but uses Pentile Technology using two sub-pixels instead of three which is said to make these numbers not directly compatible with other manufacturers.
There has been a great deal of talk about a new Apple TV – one which incorporates a screen and there is certainly a division between people who believe it will be wildly successful and others who think it isn’t needed.
But if we look at the progression of the Retina Display from the iPhone 4S to the New iPad – doesn’t it make sense that this same technology innovation will come to a new Apple TV?
And if the argument can be made that more pixels are better on small screens which are used a few feet from your face, wouldn’t it also make sense to use this argument for a TV which usually is 8-12 feet away?
But the problem is that there isn’t programming to drive this resolution.
But will this stop Apple from being successful? Maybe not.
I believe the company is likely in talks with numerous content producers about producing higher resolution content to take advantage of not only the retina display on the iPad but future formats the company is working on.
And when this happens, the demand for bandwidth will increase even faster than it is today. There will be a need for more storage, faster processors, faster pipes, new satellites, more fiber, and a refresh of DVD libraries – assuming people still want their media stored on plastic.
For all the talk of fancy new technologies which were rumored to be incorporated into new Apple devices like some sort of advanced haptic feedback system and a curved screen, the breakthrough technology of the past few product refresh cycles (aside from Siri – if you consider that a breakthrough) has been pixels. Moreover, if we do see an Apple TV, expect it to push the pixel limit and it will have to have content to power it – no doubt much of it stored in iTunes.
And if Apple finds itself in a position to not only be controlling the content distribution but setting video standards, it will make competition that much more difficult.
Richard Bloch at Seeking Alpha recently wrote that Apple could become a $2 trillion company or four times as large as it is today by market cap. And this estimate factors in “the next big thing” which he defines potentially as a new TV.
Certainly we can expect Apple’s new TV to have a simpler user interface and likely make use of speech recognition but it seems a foregone conclusion that the top three selling points will be pixels, pixels and pixels and if I am correct, we can expect a technology refresh cycle of epic proportions and most of this new buying could favor Cupertino.
Disclosure: The author owns Apple shares.