We might as well get comfortable with rumors surrounding Apple's
The Apple-centric site Cult of Mac has a source that has allegedly laid eyes on a prototype for Apple's HDTV. The "well-placed" source claims to have seen the specific device that Steve Jobs was referring to when he told biographer Walter Isaacson he had "finally cracked it," referring to an integrated TV.
What will it look like?
The device supposedly physically looks like Apple's current Thunderbolt or LED Cinema Display monitors, complete with an iSight camera that will be used for FaceTime video calls, except "much larger." Those monitors feature 27-inch displays, which would be fairly modest for the TV market.
Source: Apple; 27-inch Thunderbolt Display.
The report also says that Apple's virtual assistant Siri will make an appearance, which can be used to start a FaceTime call and presumably other functions that weren't mentioned specifically. Not much else was mentioned in the report, like other specifications, pricing, or time frame.
For comparison, here's the mockup our own Dari FitzGerald put together for me last year, based on what I think should make its way into the new device.
Graphic by Dari FitzGerald.
While Siri didn't make it into the new iPad, that was probably because not all iPads can rely on having network connectivity. For a stationary device that sits on your home Wi-Fi network all day, there's a strong case that Siri will be included. Ambient noise interference could be a challenge if you're sitting across the room, which is why I envisioned integration through an iPhone or other device.
Hold your iHorses
The timeframe is the biggest unknown. JPMorgan Chase's Mark Moskowitz doesn't think we'll see a full-blown Apple HDTV until 2014 but expects it to deliver a "differentiated" experience, notably without requiring "game-changing, content-related deals." He thinks the hardware and software integration, industrial design, and ease of use will be the real selling points.
On the other hand, NPD DisplaySearch director Paul Gagnon expects Apple's foray to be introduced later this year, but that won't ship until 2013, although conceding that he doesn't have any specific evidence. Gagnon does point out that Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn has invested $1.6 billion in Sharp's TV business, which can manufacture displays up to 60 inches.
Cutting in on Netflix?
There have also been reports that Apple has been talking with Epix, a movie-streaming service formed through a joint venture between Viacom's
It just so happens that streaming king Netflix
What not to expect
In terms of what type of technology the TV will use, I'd wager that it'll employ an LED-backlit LCD, similar to Apple's monitors. A separate NPD DisplaySearch report notes that LED-backlit TVs continue to penetrate the market and should soon lead to the demise of traditional cold-cathode fluorescent lamps, or CCFLs, by the end of 2014. As more than 80% of the CCFL industry is dedicated to TVs, CCFL technology is on its last legs.
As much as Universal Display
LED-backlit is the safest choice here.
Until next time
That mostly summarizes the latest round of Apple HDTV speculation, but this is far from the last you've heard of it. This rumor mill will keep chugging along until Apple's ready to storm into its next frontier.
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Fool contributor Evan Niu really hopes Apple doesn't announce its new TV next week (not that it will), because he got sick of waiting and bought a Vizio LED-backlit LCD TV last weekend. He owns shares of Universal Display and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Universal Display and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Universal Display, and Netflix and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.