Is Apple working on a smart LCD TV powered by iOS software?
According to a recent report by Venture Beat, "multiple sources in Silicon Valley" say yes.
Apple analyst Gene Munster told VentureBeat that an Apple TV could be ready by late 2012 or early 2013.
Furthermore, writes VentureBeat, "The price of LCD panels has droped fairly steadily, thanks to increased manufacturing efficiency, so eventually quality screens became cheap enough to make the 9.7-inch iPad economically feasible." If the trend continues, VentureBeat predicts that "15-inch or 19-inch touchscreen televisions running iOS" will hit shelves in the foreseeable future.
Apple has already released two generations of a set-top box, called Apple TV, which in its current iteration lets users purchase and stream content from iTunes, as well as access streaming services like Netflix, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and more. But a TV built on iOS would function more like an iPhone or an iPad, with access to the web, apps and more.
PCMag's John C. Dvorak says that demand may be high for an Apple-branded television set, despite Apple's current set-top offering.
"Every time I mention it to anyone, especially to younger people who seemed to have traded TV for Hulu altogether, they all say the same thing: 'If Apple built a TV, I'd buy it,'" writes Dvorak. "With the market the way it is, I think people would go nuts over a branded Apple television."
In June, an unnamed former Apple exec told DailyTech that the company was planning a television set with deep iTunes integration that would "blow Netflix and all those other guys away."
"You'll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV. It's perfect," the source said, according to DailyTech.
But not everyone thinks an Apple TV is on its way.
Gdgt's Ryan Block maintains that rumors about an Apple-made TV set are "highly unsubstantiated."
TVs are very low frequency purchases, meaning if Apple built intelligence into the sets, their replacement cycles would be far longer than for lower cost consumer electronics (i.e. 5-10+ or more years on a $3,000 TV vs. 1-3 years on a $99 set-top-box). Talk about adding insult to injury: not only do TVs have low margins, people hardly ever buy them.
Blogger Erik Schwartz wrote that he is "quite confident" there will be no Apple-branded TV "in the near future."
"If Apple was raking in the money selling media at high margins it might make sense to ship a TV as a moat for the media business," Schwartz wrote in a post on his Tumblr blog, "but media sales via iTunes is a low margin moat to defend Apple’s high margin hardware business."