updated 09:50 am EST, Wed February 1, 2012
Production sets may still be some distance away
Apple is in the middle of shopping around for parts for its TV, says Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster. The analyst says he recently spoke to sources within a "major TV component supplier," who told him that Apple had contacted the company "regarding various capabilities of their television display components." Munster considers the information "continued evidence that Apple is exploring production of a television."
Earlier evidence is said to include January 2011 meetings in Asia, hinting at Apple investment in manufacturing facilities for LCDs as big as 50 inches, and a September meeting with a "contact close to an Asian supplier" who mentioned that prototypes of a TV set were in development. Munster suggests that a Apple could have a TV ready as late 2012, although the "the timeline and stope of a revamped content solution is more uncertain."
The last statement is a reference to reports that movie and TV studios are resistant to new content deals for an Apple TV. Munster suggests that Apple could try several approaches; on a basic level a TV might just manage live TV sources through a single interface, or take advantage of services like Hulu and Netflix. Another option is said to be "a-la-carte" monthly subscriptions of live TV content, but this is argued to be the most difficult one, because existing licensing deals may create barriers.
Munster estimates that Apple could sell about 1.4 million units this year, out of a predicted 106 million in total Internet-connected TV sales. Apple's revenue pull could potentially be $2.5 billion in 2012, followed by $4 billion in 2013, and $6 billion in 2014. The analyst contends, though, that Apple only enters existing markets in order to reinvent them, and so will only attempt a TV with a different approach to content lined up. "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," he elaborates.