Why TVs are cheaper than ever (and why Apple doesn’t offer them)

In a rather interesting article, the American media The Atlantic returns to the price of a device that you probably have at home and whose price has decreased significantly in recent years (a lot): the television. And it partly demonstrates why Apple has been rumored to be getting into this space, but not entering.

Why is iPad more expensive than TV?

First, he uses the 1980s as an example, when a typical TV could cost about $800, or more than $2,500 when adjusted for inflation. For example, if we look at recommendations from 2012, the difference is also quite sharp: a flat-screen TV around 50 inches (not necessarily LCD back then) cost between $800 (for a basic 720p model) and $2,200. recommended model. In 2023, an entry-level 55-inch TV costs less than €400 in stores, and even OLED variants are regularly found around €1,000, and both have significantly higher resolutions. And according to this American site, the average price of TVs has dropped by 97% since January 2000.

This iPad is worth more than a TV and is still used to watch Netflix (but not only).

One of the author’s questions is simple: why is the iPad more expensive than a TV with a screen that is five times larger? The first reason is that the price of the TV mainly depends on the price of the panel. TVs rarely offer fast entry-level processors, and competition combined with ever-improving panel manufacturing efficiency keeps the price down.

To fully understand this point, the TV panel is cut from the so-called main panel (currently they are about 3 meters by about 3.5 meters). Therefore, the goal of the builders is to cut as many tiles as possible from this mother tile (in some cases it can be compared to a game of Tetris), to achieve the highest possible productivity. When the new technology comes, the productivity is low and a good part of the tiles don’t work, which makes everything quite expensive. Currently, the performance of LCD panels is quite good, which makes it possible to sell cheap TVs.

Personal information problem

Another reason that partially explains the decline in costs comes from new sources of profit. In many modern brands, the advantage comes not from hardware, but from exploiting data. TVs are really connected and different OS (Google TV or Android TV, Tizen, webOS etc.) use it to restore data. As the article explains well, they know what you watch, when you watch it, and how long you watch it!

This 32-inch TV is worth the same price as the Apple TV.

Don’t think that switching from a DTT tuner or HDMI-connected box will prevent TVs from checking what you’re doing: this tweet from 2016 shows that a Samsung TV was able to detect a movie being played on another platform (a computer). connects via HDMI) and create content-related advertising.

In practice, many manufacturers – especially at the entry level – can therefore reduce the margins on equipment (and therefore in the end lower the price you’ll pay while making a decent profit thanks to other sources of income: your personal data. The article cites the Roku brand as an example, which sells boxes equivalent to Apple TV but integrates the operating system into televisions (mainly in the US). And 83% of Roku’s revenue comes from the platform, that is, from targeted ads offered in the interface.

Another case is that of television maker Vizio, whose sales have remained fairly stable but whose profits have increased thanks to services and advertising associated with its products.

A different market than Apple

These different developments in the market, such as televisions, partly explain why Apple did not finally offer its own model in the mid-2010s, as the rumors promised. The brand prefers a fairly large margin on supplies, possibly with recurring revenue on paid services. Conversely, the rest of the market tends to reduce their margins on hardware when using personal data with advertising.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *