Is Apple preparing to build televisions with full computing functionality? Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster sure thinks so. The service would provide a stiffer challenge for Google TV.
Some analysts who follow Apple believe the company is hoarding larger
display technology to build a more robust Web television product.
Apple COO Tim Cook said during the
company's first-quarter earnings call that it had paid $3.9 billion in
inventory component prepayments and capital expenditures to three companies.
Based on an analysis of Apple's existing supplier relations, intellectual
property ownership, and licensing and technology, those companies may be LG
Display, Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display, IHS analyst Vinita Jakhanwal said
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said the investment in components
revolves around LCD displays used for Apple's iPad and iPhone lines, Macs with
27-inch screens, and possibly up to 50-inch-screen Apple televisions in the
An Apple television, not to be confused with the current Apple TV service
that streams Netflix content and YouTube videos, would be a comprehensive,
The device would include a Safari Web browser and sync content and services
across users' iPhones, iPads and Macs, as well as grant users access to Apple's
"While Apple's commitment to the living room remains a 'hobby,' we
continue to believe the company will enter the TV market with a full focus, as
an all-in-one Apple television could move the needle when connected TVs
proliferate," Munster wrote in a research note Feb. 3.
He added that of the 220 million flat-panel TVs sold in 2012, nearly half
will be Web-connected, of which Apple could sell 1.4 million units. An Apple
television could add $2.5 billion, or 2 percent, to revenue in 2012, and grow
to $4 billion in 2013 and $6 billion in 2014.
Simply, Apple would add yet another significant revenue stream to its fleet
of successful consumer products. These include the iPhone, which shipped
16.2 million units in the holiday quarter; the iPad,
which shipped about 15 million units in 2010; the always popular iPod music
players; and Mac computers and laptops.
A whole Apple television offering would put Apple in closer competition with
Google TV, an Android-based service with a Chrome Web browser powered by an Intel
Atom processor and running on a Logitech Revue companion box, as well as on
Blu-ray players and TVs from Sony.
Users can search for Web and TV programs using special Google TV Search and
access their digital video recordings from a keyboard controller, a special
remote, or even mobile phone applications from Logitech, Google and Samsung.
Google TV received a poor reception
for being expensive, buggy and hard to use
by media. Moreover, some broadcast companies have been loath to embrace the
service, which has seen improvements to the Netflix application and other
Apple TV has been kicking around for a few years, but Apple streamlined
the hardware and software in September.
Where Apple once offered a $229 box for users to buy, the company is now
offering a $99 device that offers high-definition Netflix movie rentals for
$4.99 and a TV rental option for 99 cents a show, along with YouTube, Flickr
and MobileMe integration.