Apple is again rumored to be preparing to release a television set.
Strong support for the idea of an Apple television (not to be confused with AppleTV, a set-top box used for streaming video to a television) comes from a source known for his Apple acumen -- analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray.
In a recent interview with Dylan Tweney in VentureBeat, Munster, citing information from component suppliers and Apple insiders, predicted an Apple television at the end of 2012 or in early 2013.
Another analyst buying into the Apple television is Stewart Alsop, of Alsop Louie Ventures. Alsop sits on the board of two companies that make media streaming products for the home -- TiVo and Sonos -- and is an avid observer of the hardware space. He told VentureBeat that multiple sources throughout Silicon Valley have told him that the television project is underway.
In the past, Apple's hardware plans have been a slave to display technology.
It had plans for a tablet as far back as 2000, but couldn't implement them because of the high cost of touchscreen displays at that time. Today, Apple is the tablet innovator thanks to its wildly popular iPad.
The same could be true for television screens.
Now that display prices have begun to decline, an Apple television in the 15- to 19-inch range and running the company's mobile operating system, iOS, is feasible. Such a TV would not only display video, but also could provide Internet access for playing games, running apps and socializing at places like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Some of those things are available on Apple's set-top box, but a television would provide a much more seamless experience for consumers.
Alsop predicted such a TV set from Apple would be available in time for the 2012 holiday season.
Earlier this summer, the Apple television rumor generated some buzz on the Internet when a former executive at the company, speaking on the condition he remain anonymous, confirmed to DailyTech that "the company's biggest upcoming product launch" would be its entry into the flat-screen television market.
Apple's television will "blow Netflix and all those other guys away," the exec boasted to DailyTech.
He noted that Apple would team up with one of its existing suppliers to make the televisions. The problem with that theory is that Apple's display providers also make televisions. If they made televisions for Apple, they'd be competing with their own TV lines. The exec discounted that barrier to Apple's entry into television sets. "If you have to be competing with somebody, you want to be competing with yourself," he told DailyTech.
If Apple launches a television set, it will be trying to succeed where it and other high-profile, high-tech names have failed before.
Apple's set-top box hasn't captured the market's imagination since its introduction. And a television venture by Google, where a version of its mobile operating system, Android, a competitor of iOS, was incorporated into TV sets hasn't seen much success either.