Monday, May 07, 2012

Long-rumored Apple HDTV an oversized, Siri-enabled Cinema Display: source

An anonymous but well-placed source has told Cult of Mac that he has seen a prototype Apple HDTV in action, fleshing out the details of Apple's long-rumored and much-hyped television set.

To be honest, much of what was revealed in the report has been rumored before. The prototype, the anonymous source said, looks much like Apple's current LED-backlit Cinema Displays, but is much larger, which makes sense as the Cinema Display tops out at 27-inches, small nowadays for a television set.

In addition, the Apple HDTV prototype has an integrated iSight camera, which can be used for making FaceTime video conference calls. Due to the fact that television viewers would obviously sit further away from the television than they do from a computer or mobile device, the camera will be able to detect and track faces, and zoom in on them during FaceTime calls even as the user moves about the room.

The Apple HDTV also has Siri, the iPhone 4S' voice-activated "virtual assistant." It was used to demo a FaceTime call for the source, but it is unclear how deeply Siri is integrated into the set. For example, could Siri be used to tune the television? That is somewhat doubtful since many users don't tune a TV but tune a cable or satellite box.

Instead, Siri might be limited to volume adjustment, changing of inputs, and the like.

Jeffries and Company analyst Peter Misek said he saw television parts being shipped to Apple’s manufacturers on a recent visit to Asia. He believes an Apple television could debut as soon as this summer.

However, J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz suggests Apple may wait until 2014 to release such hardware. Instead, Apple may debut an updated Apple TV set-top box in 2013, and wait until 2014 for the full-blown television.

The reason, Moskowitz said, was the low margins in TV, right now. He said, "We believe that the economics of the TV industry are strained, despite there being suitable offerings from the likes of Sony, Sharp, and Samsung. Overall, we would be surprised to see Apple enter a new market unless the value proposition could support double-digit operating margins. In TVs, that bogey is rather elusive, in our view."

Rumors of an Apple HDTV have been around for years, but went wild after a quote was noted from former Apple CEO Steve Jobs' bio, in which, with regard to the problem of the user interface of a TV. Jobs said, "I finally cracked it.” That, to many, pointed straight to Siri, which was introduced with the iPhone 4S shortly after Jobs' death.

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