UK satellite TV provider (and Comcast subsidiary) Sky today unveiled its all-in-one TV set. Named Sky Glass, the TV offers access to streaming Sky content and third-party video apps with no need for a set-top box.
With Glass, Sky is ditching satellite and going all-in on streaming, so there's also no need to hook up a satellite dish to the side of your house. With the design and specs now revealed, I can't help but think that Sky Glass looks precisely like the kind of Apple TV hardware we've all been wishing the iPhone maker would deliver.
On the surface, Sky Glass appears to be an Apple-like offering, simplifying the user experience of watching TV and providing solid tech specs for enjoying streaming media.
Instead of having to set up a streaming box, have an engineer come out to your home to fit a satellite dish, as was the case with Sky before, or fiddle with a soundbar and multiple remotes, Sky Glass combines it all.
"The only TV with Sky Inside. So you can stream every channel, show, and app over WiFi. No dish. No box. No fuss."
Sky Glass TVs will come in three sizes to suit different living room setups: 43-, 55-, and 65-inch. Each features a UHD Quantum Dot display with support for Dolby Vision, HDR 10, and HLG so you can enjoy 4K content to the fullest.
For audio, it packs in six speakers for 360-degree Dolby Atmos surround sound with a feature called Sky Auto-Enhance that optimizes the sound and picture for you based on what kind of content you are watching.
To get around Sky Glass, you can use the included remote or go hands-free with the "Hello Sky" voice command.
It's also impossible not to talk about the design of Sky Glass. It looks stunning from the press materials and initial photos from media outlets invited to the launch.
With a squared-off frame and five gorgeous colors, to say its design is reminiscent of Apple's M1 iMac would be an understatement. In addition, multi-room is supported via add-on Sky Stream Pucks that looks an awful lot like the current Apple TV, too.
In another Apple-like move, Sky Glass is also certified carbon neutral, and there's literally one plug to connect to get Sky Glass up and running. Very Apple-y.
Given the above parallels to Apple's usual approach to products, it's clear Sky has taken some cues from Apple with Sky Glass. It begs the question, though, as to why Apple hasn't already taken this approach with its own Apple TV hardware.
There's no doubt that Apple has already explored the idea of a dedicated TV set and either canned or shelved the project to focus what little attention Apple TV gets on the Apple TV box.
It's very likely that Apple isn't spending a lot of time or money to produce the current line of Apple TV 4K boxes. They are small plastic pucks that have stuck to the same design for years at this point, merely changing the internals every few years. Making a TV set is a different game altogether.
It's not like Apple is not interested in TV.
However, Sky also doesn't make TVs — or didn't up until now. For Glass, it has partnered with an as-yet-unnamed TV manufacturer to produce the hardware. Apple could do the same, though it has much more product design and manufacturing experience than Sky and already makes some stunning, large displays.
If it's a matter of margin, Apple could undoubtedly charge more for its offering, and Apple fans would still buy it. The cost of Sky Glass at the low end is £649, or £13 per month on top of Sky's TV packages. Throw in an Apple-quality (perhaps OLED and more than 60Hz) display, and Apple could charge £999 or more for the same sized TV with tvOS and Siri built-in for the best Apple TV experience.
It could even keep on the current Apple TV boxes as add-ons for those that want the Apple TV experience in other spaces without buying a new TV for every room.
It's not like Apple is not interested in TV. Despite the uninspiring hardware design, Apple is still heavily investing in TV. The company has spent millions on Apple TV+ content with big-budget TV shows and movies and almost anyone who's anyone in Hollywood having their name attached to something for TV+ at this stage. Apple has spent time and effort to put the Apple TV+ app on basically every platform, too, as it seeks to recoup its spend in services revenue.
The company has also shown it is not averse to receiving monthly payments for its products, with the iPhone Upgrade Program and Apple Card installment plans already blazing that trail. Who's to say it couldn't offer an Apple TV set and Apple One bundle down the line?
I've never been a fan of Sky's UI for its TV boxes, or reliability for that matter, and the experience of using a smart TV's built-in apps has always been slow and janky in my experience. A TV set of Sky Glass's hardware quality, made by Apple and running Apple's software, would be a dream.
Sky is the largest pay-TV broadcaster in the UK, so it will be interesting to see how popular Sky Glass proves to be. I hope Apple is paying attention.