By the time Apple (Nasdasq: AAPL) rolls out its rumored flat-screen television -- whenever that may ultimately be -- we may as well call it the iMunster.
After all, no one has championed the cause the way that Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster has. For nearly three years Munster has hopped on his horse, shouting to anyone within hearing distance, "The Apple HDTVs are coming! The Apple HDTVs are coming!"
He's been wrong, of course. However, now that even the late Steve Jobs revealed to his biographer that he had finally cracked the code on making television seamlessly simple, it's really just a matter of time before folks begin lining up at your local Apple store with hand trucks to roll out iTVs.
Speaking at Business Insider's IGNITION: Future of Media conference yesterday, Munster provided some more details on the device that may revolutionize the home theater experience.
He's sticking to his earlier forecast, calling for Apple's new product line to roll out in time for next year's holiday shopping season. He sees Apple being able to sell its next-generation flat screens for double the prevailing HDTV rate is at the time (which thankfully continues to get cheaper every passing year).
Munster feels that Apple will incorporate Siri's voice-recognition software to provide easy access to channels. Since Munster envisions an iTunes TV Pass that combines Apple's massive digital video vault with rudimentary local cable service, it's safe to assume that Siri would also fetch on-demand content and scour live programming. If you're DVR pioneer TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) or streaming champ Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) , now would be when you start worrying, even though Apple won't gobble up chunks of market share right away. You don't see an $800 TV for $1,600 and expect mass market penetration.
In a screenshot of Munster's presentation presented by Business Insider, he reveals how Apple can justify charging twice as much as comparable LCD sets. He tacks on the stand-alone costs of a Blu-ray player, DVR, audio receiver, and game console to make up the difference in price.
Are we really supposed to believe that Apple will stick an optical disc drive in this thing? If an $80 Blu-ray player dies you can toss it out. What happens if a Blu-ray drive goes bad on the iMunster? What happens when Blu-ray becomes an obsolete platform?
I can believe the DVR, but does this mean that Apple will be paying patent royalties to TiVo, or is another legal battle brewing? As for the game console, I think die-hard gamers would beg to differ in comparing simple iOS apps to full-blown video games -- and that's before we get to the sticky issue of App Store's touchscreen games on a flat screen. Even if the remote is an actual touchscreen (and it probably should be so that it can be perpetually updated), you're not going to get a similar gaming experience (and developers will really have to optimize their graphics for the gargantuan screens).
I'm not going to lie: If and when Apple finally introduces the iMunster, I will be an early adopter. Apple is smart enough to sidestep the mistakes made by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) -- and I have a Google TV as well -- by playing nice with the content makers from the start. If it can simplify the tower of gadgetry and spaghetti bowl of cables that plagues way too many living rooms to deliver a bar-raising device, you'd be an idiot to deny Apple a shot here.
If you want to see how this all plays out, track the latest developments by adding Apple to My Watchlist.