News broke this morning, as reported in Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, about Steve Jobs proclaiming confidently that Apple would not be making a television set. Specifically, when asked about Apple making a television set the conversation went like this:
Yukari says "Jobs didn't hesitate." He said, "No."
"TV is a terrible business. They don't turn over and the margins suck," said Jobs. (Unlike iPhones which are wildly profitable and replaced every two years, a TV gets replaced every 8 years, and isn't all that profitable.)
There are two things to consider here. First, Jobs wasn't exactly shy about bashing an industry that he and Apple would soon enter (like 7" tablets, though the case is solid for a 7" tablet being far different from 7.85"). Second, and most importantly, Apple doesn't need to make a television set to revolutionize TV. They don't and they won't; it simply wouldn't make sense.
Apple as a company provides superb user experiences and beautifully designed products. It would be ideal to have everyone viewing the Apple TV revolution on some Jony Ive designed 4K screen with high end surround sound to match, sure. It just isn't realistic and the upside is limited.
The revolution in the television world will be with content delivery, content packaging, and content itself. Apple has had great success cultivating an ecosystem of content, but the traditional cable provider and television network situation has clearly proven challenging for even Apple to battle. Apple will not go all-in on the TV/content market until they have the control they demand.
They have the UI figured out. They've got the set top box designed. They have the remote ready to go. I've got a hunch that their television plans have been ready for quite some time now, they're just waiting for the content deals to fall into place, then they push the button.