Apple HDTV project reportedly led by iTunes top dog

Rumors around Apple's TV set ambitions continue to flourish, with the latest being suggestions that the software engineer responsible for iTunes has now turned his attention to developing an Apple-branded HDTV. Jeff Robbin, involved in both iPod and iTunes development, is reportedly leading the Apple television drive so Bloomberg's sources would have it, though the project is said to be still a top secret one within the company. Speculation around an Apple HDTV has flourished in the past week, after it was revealed that Steve Jobs told his biographer that he had "finally cracked"  how to make television as usable as iPods and the iPhone.

That tidbit – "It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine" – had analysts queuing up to voice their opinions on what the long-rumored TV might bring. Yesterday, it was suggested that Apple would integrate Siri and FaceTime into an iOS-based HDTV chassis, using the voice control system to intelligently search live, recorded and streaming content rather than navigate through several tiers of menus on different STBs.

Another analyst pointed to iCloud, arguing that the cloud-storage system launched alongside iOS 5 would make the ideal digital repository for multimedia, shared both with the Apple HDTV and mobile iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. However, others have pointed to the notoriously low margins involved in TVs, and argued that Apple would struggle to persuade shoppers that its models were worth a premium. Sony, which adopted Google TV, encountered sluggish demand for its smart TV sets that integrated Google's interpretation of a search-led home entertainment platform, and was forced to sharply discount the sets soon after launch.

In short, while there's plenty of talk of prototypes already in development, we're no closer to a cast-iron Apple TV set than we were before. Apple already has the Apple TV, a compact STB allowing iTunes access on any television, and that would seem an obvious starting point for adding Siri voice control, perhaps using an iPhone 4S as a touchscreen, voice-activated remote.