Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster issued a research note today lending even more fodder to the Apple HDTV rumor mill.
“We recently spoke to a major TV component supplier who has been contacted by Apple regarding various capabilities of their television display components,” Muster writes. “We are confident that Apple will enter the connected TV market, but timing remains uncertain. More specifically, the hardware could be ready quickly, but the timing and scope of a revamped TV content solution is unclear.”
So Apple will enter the TV market but the timing remains uncertain? Hmm, I could have told you that without talking to anyone.
Munster has long been a proponent for an Apple HDTV set going as far back as 2009 when he predicted that Apple would enter the TV market within 5 years. Now it’s very likely that his prediction will come to fruition, but in all seriousness, a prediction with a 5-year window is a bit absurd.
Munster also notes that Apple is investing in manufacturing facilities capable of churning out displays as small as 3.5 inches and as large as 50 inches. A few weeks ago, the USA Today said that Apple’s HDTV efforts were well underway but that they were having trouble securing licensing deals. What’s more, the report claimed that Apple is currently exploring 42 and 50-inch LCD sets with embedded Wi-Fi functionality. More recently, and take this with a grain of salt, Technobuffalo reported that Apple is working on a 42-inch OLED set with built-in face recognition.
Software wise, Munster anticipates Apple could implement a few solutions to distinguish its product from an already saturated HDTV market.
- Apple could enable its television to manage a consumer’s live TV service from within a unified interface, like TiVo, but without a set-top box.
- Apple could offer access to live TV from network programming in combination with Web-based video services.
- Apple could offer monthly subscriptions on an a-la-carte basis for live TV packages with content from content providers; this is the most challenging scenario due to existing licensing arrangements, he notes.
“We believe that Apple only enters mature markets with the goal of revolutionizing them, as it did with the smartphone,” Munster adds. “In television, we see an opportunity for Apple to reinvent how consumers discover and enjoy video on their TVs and mobile devices (live TV, previously aired shows, movies, user generated content, etc.). Without a revamped TV content solution, we do not think Apple enters the TV market. Since we know Apple is exploring television hardware, we are therefore led to conclude that the company is exploring a solution for live TV, and this solution could be one that has not yet been taken mainstream.”
Rumors surrounding an Apple HDTV reached a fever pitch a few months ago when Steve Jobs, in his biography, noted to Walter Isaacson that he had ‘finally cracked’ the challenge of delivering an integrated TV set.