Japan’s Sharp, maker of huge-screen televisions, voiced confidence Thursday as it told reporters Apple isn’t much of a concern. What about the almost incessant chatter that the tech giant will enter the TV manufacturing market with an iTV in 2012? “It’s not something we’re studying very hard,” an executive claims. Unclear whether this is bravado or whistling past the graveyard, but perhaps Sharp missed class the day Apple mangled a whole string of industries thought to be untouchable.
The comments by Kozo Takahashi, Sharp’s head of North and South American operations, follow reports Apple is prepping a redesigned television that could tie-in iTunes and other connectivity. “I really have no idea what kind of TV it will be,” the executive said. “But if he came up with it, I’m sure it will be amazing,” Takahashi said.
In Jobs’s biography, written by Walter Isaacson, the Apple co-founder is quoted as saying about how to remake the TV interface and experience: “I finally cracked it.” Analysts such as Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster contend Apple is already in the late stages of approving an iTV product for 2012.
Sharp’s comments are intriguing, given reports in November that the TV manufacturer and component supplier is adapting its production lines to churn out TFT LCD panels for the iTV.
Although those reports suggest TV manufacturers, already operating on razor thin margins, are panicked by the idea Apple could enter the market. The Cupertino, Calif. company has a reputation for squeezing suppliers to produce advanced iPhone, iPad and Mac designs for the least money. Sharp, however, believes U.S. consumers are not as technology-obsessed as Japanese buyers. Instead, American consumers demand low prices, wide screens and the latest features, such as 3D.
However, we have seen the Apple brand become a feature by itself. From iPods to iPads, consumers expect all devices to operate the way Apple devices do. The only question is will the TV manufacturing industry become the latest where everyone plays follow-the-leader behind Apple?