Apple TV Set by 2011?

In a message to clients, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster describes the possibility that Apple will enter into the market for television sets, with an Apple-branded set for movies, music, games, and interactive TV.

"TV hardware is a challenging business if you don't change the rules of the game," Munster writes, "but we see potential for Apple to offer best-in-class software and hardware and charge a premium."

In his view, Apple's move would begin with the introduction of a new set-top box with a built-in DVR and subscription-based access to TV shows, a move into more direct competition with cable companies, and then an Apple television set that would sync with other Apple products as the Apple TV does with Macs now.

We believe Apple could differentiate itself with software that makes home entertainment simple and solves a pain point for consumers (complicated TV and component systems).

Munster, who has made predictions about Apple's TV business before, cites evidence that includes Apple DVR interface patents and a comment by COO Tim Cook that "we're going to continue to invest in it" when asked about Apple TV development by Munster.

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