We already know that Apple
That's right: I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm not referring to the real Apple TV full-size set that everyone is awaiting with bated breath. Hopefully, a minor refresh of the current Apple TV set-top box will hold eager buyers over until the real deal emerges.
One of the telltale signs that Apple is about to update any of its product lines is that its distribution channels to third-party retailers and distributors starts to dry up ahead of time as supply becomes constrained. Apple obviously doesn't explicitly tell its partners to expect an update, but the same story reliably plays out every time. This is exactly what's happening with the current box, including through retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Amazon.com, among others.
Let's consider what to expect from an updated Apple TV set-top box. The current version uses Apple's custom ARM Holdings
I'd expect the new Apple TV to carry an updated A- processor, either a rumored improved A5X or entirely new-generation A6. It may also incorporate Siri, as I expect Siri to find its way into every Apple mobile device released from here on out, and eventually into Macs.
I'm also betting that the expanded presence will benefit backend voice-recognition provider Nuance Communications
The iPad 3 is practically guaranteed to carry a high-resolution Retina Display, which could easily handle 1080p HD content. As of right now, all HD content in iTunes maxes out at 720p, which is also the highest resolution the current Apple TV supports. Chances are that these two devices will launch simultaneously and set the stage for a broader migration within iTunes for 1080p HD content.
It might not be the full-size game-changing Apple TV, but it'll do for now.
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Fool contributor Evan Niu has a synthetic long options position on Nuance Communications and owns shares of ARM Holdings, Nuance Communications, Apple, and Amazon.com, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Best Buy, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com, Apple, and Nuance Communications, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and writing covered calls in Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.