Analyst Says Apple Targeting Late 2012 for Apple TV (iTV) Launch

Submitted by lalit on February 1, 2012 - 6:53pm.

Piper Jaffray’s analyst Gene Munster says that major TV component suppliers are in talks with Apple regarding various capabilities of their television display components. He believes that prototypes of Apple television are in works and Apple is targeting a late 2012 launch. Munster offered three scenarios that Apple could use to offer a unique TV experience:

  • Apple could simply enable its television to manage a consumer's live TV service from within a unified interface much like TiVo does, partnering with MSOs [i.e. the cable companies]. As Apple was developing the iPhone many investors expected the company to become an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). Instead, the company partnered with AT&T (then Cingular) to bring the iPhone to market in the U.S. Similarly, Apple could choose to avoid the cost and effort of entering the live TV services business and simply partner with MSOs to deliver live, cable TV to the Apple Television. While this would be the easiest and most likely option, it would also be the least revolutionary. Technically, this option would function much like TiVo does today: partnering with MSOs and offering a unified DVR/guidance software interface to make search and discovery easier for the viewer. In some ways, a connected TV's software is the biggest differentiator that Apple can bring to the table, so this option could still result in a new and fresh product for the television market. Apple could also supplement this with its iTunes Movie rental and purchase service directly on the television.
  • Apple could offer access to live TV from network channels in combination with other web-based video services. One middle-of-the-road option could be for Apple to deliver live TV from network channels (either over the internet or over the air) to the Apple Television. Apple could then leverage a new App Store for the Apple Television to supplement the basic live TV features with Netflix, Hulu Plus, or any content provider that chooses to build an app for the television. In this instance, Apple would also likely continue to offer its iTunes movie and TV content through the iTunes store to the Apple Television.
  • Apple could offer monthly subscriptions, on an a-la-carte basis, for live TV packages with content from content providers. Clearly the most challenging option, if Apple truly wanted to control the entire television experience - which, again, the company chose not to do when entering the smartphone market - it would have to become a virtual MSO (Multiple Services Provider) and offer monthly subscriptions for live TV services. Such an offering would be unlikely given existing licensing arrangements between content providers and service providers as well as the fact that it lies outside of Apple's core competencies, even in media. That said, it would enable the company to control the entire experience and possibly deliver new features that are currently unavailable through existing television service providers and CE device makers.

Munster has been claiming that Apple will launch a television for past 6-7 years, so we should take his 2012 launch date and the three scenarios with a big grain of salt. We all know from Steve’s biography that Apple has been working on Apple television for past few years and Steve even claimed that he has cracked the simplest user interface for TV. However, we still don’t have any concrete information about when Apple actually plans to launch the television or what the specifications will be. [Via Fortune]