While most of the tech media's attention is focused on the impending, if yet unconfirmed, release date of the latest version of Apple's iPhone smartphone, rumors are also swirling that Apple is developing a new set-top box for watching television that would use an interface similar to the one found on the iPad, according to an Aug. 17 report in The Wall Street Journal.
According to the report, the device would feature a digital-video recorder that would save programs in the cloud, as well as a feature that would allow consumers to catch a live airing from the start if they tune in after the program has begun. In addition, Apple would include social media connectivity and the ability to share content across Apple devices, according to the report's unnamed sources who said they had been briefed on Apple's plans.
"Apple also has approached entertainment companies, which own television content, with an outline of what it wants the new device to do, distributing, in at least one case, a document outlining its capabilities, one of the people said," the article stated. Apple also may negotiate directly with media companies over other features, such as new ways of offering past seasons of shows it already has some rights to through iTunes."
Apple's current set-top box, Apple TV, is a digital media receiver designed to play digital content originating from the iTunes Store, Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and several other portals. During the company's third-quarter earnings conference call in July, CEO Tim Cook called sales of the device-which reached 1.3 million units in the June 2012 quarter, up 170 percent over the previous year, "incredible" and compared their level of involvement to a hobby. The total sales figure stands at 6.8 million Apple TVs sold.
While TheJournal report concerned a set-top box used to access content, rumors are also circulating that Apple will actually produce a television set of its own. An Apple TV is no longer a matter of "if," but "when," Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Douglas J. Clinton wrote in a June 1 research note. The pair forecast a retail price between $1,500 and $2,000 for a TV with a display between 42 and 55 inches, for the new device to add between 4 and 8 percent to Apple's 2013 revenue and for it to accomplish nothing short of revolutionizing how people consume content in their living rooms.