Apple to announce Television product (not AppleTV)?

Image representing Apple TV as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

With many televisions now coming with internet access built-in, as well as various apps. many folk are beginning to wonder if and when Apple is going to get into the market and release its own TV. Certainly, such a development has long been rumoured and it seems the rumour-mill is heating up once again.

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray (known for being pretty accurate when it comes to predictions about Apple products) has recently said that Apple will indeed release such a product in late 2012 or early 2013. Quite a way off but intriguing nevertheless. According to Macworld UK he has been talking to component suppliers and his contacts within Apple in order to arrive at this conclusion. Others seem to concur, Stewart Alsop, of Alsop Louie Ventures being one of them. He quotes various sources in Silicon Valley that Apple is indeed working on such a product.

Question is though, what exactly are we talking about here? After all, the AppleTV set-top box ( for streaming video to a television ) has been around a number of years and has been described as a ‘hobby’ of Steve Jobs in the past. Now Steve is withdrawing from day to day involvement in Apple for health reasons, what future does the AppleTV have? Considering the low priority the product has had over the years, how sure can we be that Apple is now going to focus on an actual TV?

Let’s assume they are indeed going to release such a product in the next year to 18 months, what specification will it have and what features will it come with? Also, Apple relies on other manufacturers to make its displays (such as Samsung) and how certain can we be that they are happy to make displays for a competitor who is going to compete directly with their own product lines (Samsung being big in the TV business)?

Certainly Apple is quite capable of producing a TV and if they were you can be pretty sure it would be of high quality. Their Cinema Displays are renown for their top-notch quality (and price) and the iMac screens are a thing of beauty. The real question lies not in can they do it, but why would they want to? I for one am not convinced they will, at least not until there is some compelling business rationale for doing so and I can’t see one yet. Apple has built its recent success on being focused and not spreading itself too thinly. It has always (when being successful) brought something new to the table, with the intention of dominating whatever part of the market its aiming for. So we saw it revolutionise the personal computer market with the original iMac, the MP3 player market with the iPod, the smartphone market with the iPhone and lately the Tablet market with the iPad. Repeating this success with a TV means bringing something to the table tat has so far eluded the likes of Samsung, Sony and Panasonic. Apple is a great company but to come up against these big three would require something truly special.

Bear in mind too that not only would Apple be competing with the TV manufacturers but also with the likes of SKY and Virgin Media (and even BT in the UK) who have the digital streaming market pretty much sown up. Google is also rumoured to be bringing its Google TV to the UK. Also, recent changes by Apple as regards TV programmes in iTunes have given mixed messages about Apple’s intentions in this area. So, for now I remain unconvinced but if I am proved wrong it may be just the thing to make me finally jump on the HDTV bandwagon.

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