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Apple Reportedly Investigating Television Set Components as Anticipation Builds

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, whose long-standing claims of an Apple television set have been gaining steam in recent months as new rumors have surfaced in support of the idea, issued a research note late yesterday (via AppleInsider) discussing some new developments with Apple's work. Specifically, Munster notes that he had recent discussion with a "major TV component supplier" which disclosed that Apple had contacted the company to inquire about their products. The disclosure adds another data point to rumors from Asian supply chains that Apple has been working on a television set. The relevant portion of Munster's report is quoted by Barron's:
In Jan-12 we spoke with a major TV component supplier who has been contacted by Apple regarding various capabilities of their television display components. We see this as continued evidence that Apple is exploring production of a television. This latest data point follows Jan-11 meetings in Asia that led us to believe Apple was investing in manufacturing facilities for LCD displays ranging from 3.5″ mobile displays to 50″ television displays. In Sept-11 we met with a contact close to an Asian supplier who indicated that prototypes of an Apple Television are in the works. We believe TV hardware could be ready for a late CY12 launch, but the timeline and scope of a revamped content solution is more uncertain.
Observers have been looking for Apple's next major product line even as the iPad and iPhone experience booming sales and the Mac continues its resurgence with long-standing steady growth easily outpacing that of the overall PC industry. The rumor mill clicked into high gear on the topic of an Apple television set with Steve Jobs' disclosure in his authorized biography that he had "finally cracked" how to revolutionize television technology.


Rumors have since focused on an integrated television set involving iTunes and iCloud and controlled via Siri voice technology. One report has claimed that Apple design chief Jony Ive has a 50-inch Apple television set prototype in his design lab, although various sources have at different times claimed a wide range of sizes for Apple's TV set, from 32 inches to over 50 inches.

Sources seems to suggest that Apple is shooting for a launch of its television set later this year or early next year. What remains unknown is whether Apple will be able to make any revolutionary changes on the content side within that timeframe. The company has made several efforts to work with content providers on ideas such as "best of TV" packages that would be made available through iTunes and enable users to in some cases eliminate their cable television subscriptions, but the company has reportedly made little progress in those negotiations.

Related roundup: Apple TV

Top Rated Comments

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37 months ago
Will it have a rear-facing camera?
Rating: 15 Votes
37 months ago
i think Apple should start talking with car manufacturers, just to watch the rumors pour in.
Rating: 6 Votes
37 months ago

Hopefully this additional product will not put any additional pressure on Foxconn employees. They're close to the edge as it is.


Christ... Here we go with the "Lets post for the sakes of posting!!!!!" brigade.
:rolleyes:

At least try to keep it on topic..
Rating: 4 Votes
37 months ago
what next... an iRefrigerator?



+1 huge sack of meh
Rating: 4 Votes
37 months ago

Hopefully this additional product will not put any additional pressure on Foxconn employees. They're close to the edge as it is.


Perhaps you missed the front page article –*just a few stories below this one – detailing FoxConn hiring thousands of new employees for expanded facilities. You may also have missed the articles elsewhere detailing Foxconn’s plans to open 5 new facilities in Brazil.
Rating: 3 Votes
37 months ago
The biggest obstacle to Apple (or NetFlix or HULU or anyone else) replacing cable or directv subscriptions is a combination of content (that's a licensing issue that could be overcome) and bandwidth limitations, which I consider the most serious.

Assume such new TVs are to be High Definition (at least 1080i60, but better 1080p60; p30 or p24 would be OK, too), most if not all ISPs have monthly limitations on download volumes. My Comcast is 250GB. So if you just dump cable or directv and try to watch content using Internet streaming or downloads only, you will likely exceed your allocation quickly. And at least Comcast's punishment is to ban you from their service for at least a year after one warning. And they have NO residential service that provide more data allocation. You might be able to buy a business internet connection, but I don't know what their restrictions on that are (user agreement, etc.)

Certainly, if the bandwidth allocation nut can be cracked, and true HD at BluRay quality can be provided, and lots of content can be rented or purchased for multiple views (and stored in cloud or on your personal Hard Drive... like iTunes music can be), then physical media is pretty much dead except for business and small scale (wedding, school plays et al) video.

But until that happens, many will continue to get their higher quality video via cable / directv / optical media, augmented from time to time with internet provided video from Apple / Netflix / Hulu et al.
Rating: 3 Votes
37 months ago
There are so many significant problems with an iTV. How do you elegantly solve the problem of obsolescence? Imagine trying to run iOS 5 on the 4 year old iPhone1, now imagine trying to run iOS8 on a 7 year old iPhone 1. People simply don’t upgrade their televisions frequently enough. You’ve got removable “brains” like Samsung is going to do, but that seems inelegant and fraught with problems. There’s the iPad/iPhone as brain, but that too introduces problems both technical and positioning.

The far larger problem though is an iTV forced to deal with Cable/Satellite providers doesn’t solve the problem of television. An iTunes subscription deal doesn’t solve the problem of live television.

Unless Apple has something big planned and can whip a few Cable/Satellite companies inline like they did with cell phone operators I can’t see an iTV being successful.
Rating: 3 Votes
37 months ago

How is this not on topic? Are these TVs going to come out of thin air? This report does mention an unknown supplier - so this is very relevant.


How does mentioning someone supplying Apple with parts have anything to do with Foxcon who doesn't supply television components?
Rating: 2 Votes
37 months ago

What remains unknown is whether Apple will be able to make any revolutionary changes on the content side within that timeframe. The company has made several efforts to work with content providers on ideas such as "best of TV" packages that would be made available through iTunes and enable users to in some cases eliminate their cable television subscriptions, but the company has reportedly made little progress in those negotiations.


IMO, the concept of a television product launched by Apple must overcome the massive obstacle described in the above quote. And even that comes with tremendous issues.

For example, who owns the broadband pipes that would flow the cableTV killer from Apple to this TV (where I am that's Comcast or AT&T- both of which like their cable subscription revenues "as is")? Why are they going to allow Apple to steal their revenue stream through pipes they own? The missing rumor is something that would allow an Apple solution to bypass the broadband gatekeepers who are also in the business of selling cableTV subscriptions. That rumor is desperately needed for this rumor to gain much credibility (to me anyway).

There are tremendous revenues in commercials. There are tremendous revenues in cable/satt bills "as is". Some of those revenues feed the content creation infrastructure. The dream of no commercials removes about $49 Billion from that feed in the U.S. alone. Yes, there's profit in there but there's also money that pays for actually creating the stuff we want to see. When we dream of an Apple cable killer, we generally dream of it being ONLY what we want to see (aka "just the channels I want to watch" al-a-carte) often commercial free.

The kicker is that that dream is usually accompanied with a cheap price on an assumption that if 200 channels cost $100/month (or 50 cents each) the 10-20 to which "I really want to subscribe" should cost about $5-$10/month. A model change from $100/month + commercial revenues to $5-$10/month with no commercials will kill the volume & quality of content production.

Even the rumored $29/month subscription for "just what I want" makes no sense. Take the revenue made ONLY from the commercials- $49 billion- and divide it by the number of households in the U.S. (about 300 million people at about 4 people per household = 75 million households). $49 billion divided by 75 million = $654 per year (per household in just industry-supporting revenue made from commercials). If the replacement model is commercial free and if we want to maintain the same industry infrastructure that depends on that revenue, we consumers must make up that cost. $654/12 months = $54.5 per household. See why the rumored $29/month concept doesn't fly?

Set that aside. If we assume the "greedy cable monopolies" are taking about 50% of our $100/month bill as profit (which is not true), then the hard cost of the content must be about $50/month per household. See why the rumored $29/month concept doesn't fly?

Now blend them in the dream concept: no commercials, bypass the greedy cable company, and we have to reconcile about $154/month in the current model down to just $29/month in an imagined Apple replacement model. Won't Apple want their 30% too?

This whole rumor is just a mess when someone logically thinks it through. And I still haven't seen a single rumor that offers anything positive about what I quoted above (forget all the math I just offered).

I love :apple:TV and long for an updated one (and anticipate that THAT is much more likely than a whole television). I just don't see an Apple Television flying. The above is just a few of the obstacles. Don't forget the live sports issue. How about local channels? Can Apple make a screen size that is a mainstream desired size for many? Can Apple choose a panel technology that is mainstream desirable for many? What about the port options? Locked only to iTunes? There's just so many issues.

Biggest for me is the content sourcing referenced above. A close second is the concept that a $100 or so set-top box could bring just about anything that might be done in software to ANY HDTV from anyone else. When Apple software can be run on any competitor's hardware, Apple hardware must then compete toe-to-toe on its own merits. I just don't see it.
Rating: 2 Votes
37 months ago
I'm also skeptical regarding Apple's ability to offer a television set that is fully-featured and price affordable. As someone above me said, the only way I could see that happening is if they sell the television for only a bit more than it costs to produce, to then make money from services.
Rating: 2 Votes

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