Rumors of an Apple TV set refuse to die, with the perennial speculation again igniting this week in the aftermath of Steve Jobs’ resignation. The latest grist is from VentureBeat, which has pulled together various analysts and venture capitalists to weigh in on the gossip; Stewart Alsop, of Alsop Louie ventures and a board member of TiVo and Sonos, claims that multiple sources he’s spoken to have confirmed the Apple television project is a work-in-progress, which would run iOS but on a significantly larger display than that of the iPad or iPhone.
The soothsayers include long-time Cupertino TV tipster Gene Munster, who has been pushing the idea of an Apple-branded TV set since 2009. Munster’s predictions have had to evolve as time goes on; initially he argued Apple would have the set on the market by this year, a timescale that has since been updated to late 2012 or early 2013. “I think the probability is almost zero that it will be this year” he now says.
Alsop claims Apple is likely to begin with smaller TVs, 15- to 19-inch touchscreen sets that target the kitchen and bedroom, and which he reckons will go on sale by the 2012 holiday shopping season. Injecting iOS into an HDTV would make it a far more interactive proposition, he says, doing “to television manufacturers what [Apple] did to phone makers with the iPhone”.
Nonetheless, that’s just the opportunity Apple has had with the Apple TV, its existing set-top box, and so far there’s no sign of iOS apps arriving on living room scale screens. As ever, the possibility of an Apple HDTV rests for the large part on whether the company believes it can turn a profit on the TV as a premium experience for delivering premium content. Although we’ve heard talk of a so-called iTV, and of prototypes being played with in Apple’s labs – and while some people do believe there’s room for such a model in the marketplace – so far these rumors feel like little more than hopeful speculation.