The Apple TV, which Steve Jobs typically refers to as a hobby, never really materialized into the business Apple hoped it would. But Apple is keeping at it, and a product leak back in May hinted that the next iteration of the Apple TV will come with 16GB of flash storage, an A4 processor, and last but not least, support for 1080p HD content. Moreover, the next-gen Apple TV will reportedly be about the same size of an iPhone and will retail for just $99.
Not too bad, but Apple’s interest in Television may expand well beyond the confines of its beloved hobby.
The New York Times is reporting that Apple has plans to completely revamp its television strategy. In addition to the rumored Apple TV update, the Times has learned from people familiar with Apple’s television efforts that “Apple might base a new television design on its iOS operating system.”
Moreover, and citing someone familiar with the company’s new hires, the report notes that Apple recently hired a number of UI and graphics designers with a background and expertise in broadcast design for television.
Another person, who recently left Apple and was involved with the company’s television group, said some of the more advanced work on the next version of the TV is not taking place within the Apple TV group, but within another design group in the company—this could signal an entirely new product.
Rumors that Apple has plans to release an Apple branded HDTV have periodically made the rounds over the past few years, but it remains to be seen if Apple is willing to enter a market known for extremely thin margins and cut-throat competition. When it comes to quality, it’s really hard to top some of the premium offerings from Sony and Samsung. If Apple wants to succeed in that market, it’ll have to integrate an attractive software solution into the hardware. And as luck would have it, that just so happens to be Apple’s specialty.
Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently reiterated his belief that in the next 2-4 years, Apple will release an HDTV with built-in Internet and iTunes access. Intriguing, but giving himself a 2-4 year window isn’t really much of a prediction.