Apple will use its soon-to-be-updated Apple TV digital media network device as a stepping stone to eventually launch its own internet-enabled Apple HDTV (high-definition television) set within the next 2 to 4 years, if the prediction of an analyst from a US investment-banking firm is to be believed.
Gene Munster, a Piper Jaffray senior research analyst who specialises in the internet sector and of late lifestyle consumer electronics giant Apple, said in a recent note to his investor clients that the relaunched Apple TV – rumoured to be overhauled with access to the App store and limited storage space in conjunction with a well-received price cut – could serve as a precursor to Apple entering the fiercely competitive HDTV market currently dominated by Korean and Japanese manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony.
Obviously the Apple TV set-top box is going to play an important part in realising this vision. Dismissed as a “hobby” by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the Apple TV did not enjoy the sales success of iPod and iPhones due to competition from live TV broadcasts and cable TV subscription services. With this in mind, the Apple TV is set to be relaunched with a new name (Apple iTV, if they can avoid any legal wrangles with the UK commercial TV broadcaster ITV over the same brand name), iOS user interface, access to the App store, the same internal hardware as the iPhone 4 (A4 processor chip and 16Gb of flash memory storage) and an inexpensive price tag of US $100 (£64).
Also in the pipeline is the construction of a new data centre in North Carolina, which could be the central hub for a cloud-based iTunes streaming service, making the addition of an on-demand TV subscription package a distinct possibility.
Mr Munster figured that the Apple iTunes TV streaming subscription plan could cost between US $50 to US $90 per month for US customers, with the compatible Apple HDTV display retailing for US $1999 (£1280). This combination allows users to watch videos, listen to music and play games streamed directly onto their HD TV set, potentially eliminating the need for other devices such as a Blu-ray player, video game console, and satellite/cable TV subscription.