Apple’s Been Buying Up Display Panels To Launch The iTV In 2012 [Report]



Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has had an idée fixe about Apple’s so-called iTV for so long that before Steve Jobs said he’d “cracked” the television problem, we actually thought he seemed a bit ridiculous.

In 2012, though, it’s increasingly looking like Munster is right and Apple is planning an entry into the HDTV market. In fact, according to Munster’s own sources, Apple has been contacting major TV component suppliers about securing display panels for the iTV, which he believes will launch by late 2012.

But that’s not all. Munster has some intriguing thoughts on just what the magic behind the iTV will be, and he sees three possible scenarios for content:

1. The simplest scenario – Apple could simply enable its television to manage a consumer’s live TV service from within a unified interface much like TiVo does, partnering with MSOs (i.e. the cable companies). [..] In some ways, a connected TV’s software is the biggest differentiator that Apple can bring to the table, so this option could still result in a new and fresh product for the television market. Apple could also supplement this with its iTunes Movie rental and purchase service directly on the television.

2. Live TV + Web combo – Apple could offer access to live TV from network channels in combination with other web-based video services. One middle-of-the-road option could be for Apple to deliver live TV from network channels (either over the internet or over the air) to the Apple Television. Apple could then leverage a new App Store for the Apple Television to supplement the basic live TV features with Netflix, Hulu Plus, or any content provider that chooses to build an app for the television.

3. iTunes television subscription – Apple could offer monthly subscriptions, on an a-la-carte basis, for live TV packages with content from content providers. […] Such an offering would be unlikely given existing licensing arrangements between content providers and service providers as well as the fact that it lies outside of Apple’s core competencies, even in media.

Honestly, I think the simplest scenario is most likely to be right. Honestly, Apple’s revolutions are usually launched by seemingly small innovations centered around a more usable interface. For example, the iPhone revolutionized smartphones by adopting a touchscreen instead of physical buttons and then building the whole core OS around the concept of apps, of which telephone abilities were just one small part. When Apple enters the HDTV market, I expect them to do the same thing.

  • FriarNurgle

    I already have a HDTV and an Apple TV 2. Can’t see spending a large amount of money to replace them but I’ll be happy to toss another 100 bucks Apple’s way for an updated Apple TV 3 little hockey puck. 

  • gettysburg11s

    Yes, I agree.  To make their margin on a TV, they would have to sell it for about $1500.00.  There is no way people will spend that kind of money on TVs.  You can get a name brand 37 inch LED 1080p TV for about $500.00-$600.00, and those usually have access to Netflix, etc.  I say, no way Apple will come out with a branded TV.

  • Bob Whipple

    I have a hard time imagining what Apple is going to bring to the table that would induce me to purchase another TV. 

    But I will admit I am very interested to see if they will disrupt the cable/satellite ecosystem as they have other industries. Apple never ceases to amaze me with their products.

  • prof_peabody

    I wish someone would come up with a more believable render if we are going to be treated to endless iTV speculation.  

    This same ridiculous image appears on almost every story even though if Apple actually made such a tiny boring device it wouldn’t sell at all.  The market for a 24″ pedestal TV’s is tiny at best and filled with senior citizens.  

  • Fearless_fred

    I wish John Brownlee would get the message that it won’t be called the iTV (if in fact it ever sees the light of day).

  • Aj Tk427

    Me too, I keep hoping that we’ll get a product refresh for the ATV2

  • FriarNurgle

    Input control is the most challenging aspect to expanding the ATV2 features (introduce apps). One can only fathom a huge % of ATV owners also own an iOS device, it seems like a no brainer to just update the ATV and iOS remote app… but that would potentially seriously fragment those without an iOS device. Its just not very Apple like. There is always jailbreaking though.  

  • Mike Rathjen

    People also said iPods were too expensive to succeed, iPhones were too expensive to succeed, and MacBook Airs were too expensive to succeed.

  • prof_peabody

    I dunno.  If I was Apple I would call it iTV and just not sell it in the UK.  It won’t take long for people to pressure iTV to cave on letting them use the name.  

  • Len Williams

    I’m anxious to see what Apple will finally come up with–but please, not with the design of the render used in this article! It looks like an iPad with a thyroid condition, and the shape just isn’t right for a TV. Throws me back to the 1950s concepts of what the future would look like.

  • CharliK

    When the first Apple TV box was rumored, iTV (the station) made it very very clear they would not give up the name to Apple and would use all legal means to stop Apple from using the name anywhere. 

    I doubt their feelings have changed. 

  • CharliK

    I say if they come out with anything it will be a larger than 27 inch display that will work with a computer, the Apple TV box, a blu-ray/DVD player and so on. By not including a tv tuner they would avoid licensing patents and such. And by making it a blank display they would have a larger potential market than just another tv set. 

    And the Apple TV itself will be another black box. A much better one, but still just a box. And the real improvements will come with the quality of the content in the iTunes store. 

  • Fearless_fred

    I agree with lucascott. Apple have already in effect capitulated to the UK broadcaster ITV. When the original Apple TV was announced, Apple announced it as the iTV, only for them to cave in and release the actual product as the ATV. That sets a precident.

    Also, I doubt that they (ITV) would be willing to give up a brand identity that they have spent 60 years building up, just because Apple want to name a new device iTV in the same marketplace. This isn’t like Cisco, where they had the name iPhone, but no existing product. This is a well established brand. Could you imagine an apple tv being called the ABC in the USA? That’s *exactly* the sort of situation that you’d be creating. In this case, it is Apple that would need to give way, as ITV clearly have the prior rights (as Apple have previously conceded when they renamed the original Apple TV box).