Thursday, December 13, 2012

WSJ report citing Apple tests of prototype HDTVs nothing to get excited about yet

Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking on "Rock Center," said that television was an area of interest for the company, while not going deeper than that. Following up on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has been testing designs with both Foxconn and Sharp for several months.

While obviously something that will immediately go to the top of any Apple fan(atic)'s list of things to buy, there are reasons to not get too excited yet.

Even the WSJ was clear on that. Apple has been testing prototype designs for a television for years, but nothing has come to fruition yet. Still, the rumors over an Apple TV have persisted.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the TV won't someday appear. Remember how long an Apple tablet was rumored before the iPad was released? The fact that Tim Cook recently mentioned Apple interest in an HDTV (and he said the same thing in May) points to Apple being closer to a TV than ever before.

Getting from prototype to retail device isn't easy in the TV space, though -- even for Apple. After all, Apple has to navigate the seas of DRM, studio licensing agreements, and more. The lack of those agreements have been a major stumbling block in the way of Apple TV.

Last November, CBS' CEO Leslie Mooves explained the network's disdain for Apple TV:
We're not going to go out and we've sort of -- we've even been against joining Apple TV, which was an advertiser split. And these deals are significant in that we are getting guaranteed cash payment. We like operating on that basis. And as you said, we've been able to do deals worth hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on that basis. That is our position right now.

Will we ever make a statement that, that never could happen? I wouldn't right now because we don't know how the world evolves, but I like the way we played our hand and getting this guaranteed revenue stream is a good way to go.
Even Goldman Sachs analyst Gene Munster, who has long trumpeted just how much of an impact an Apple TV would have has pushed the earliest date for its arrival to fall of 2013. Munster, who has set a $900 price target for Apple's stock, predicted back in August of 2010 that the Apple TV set-top box could be a stepping stone to a $2,000 all-in-one television. Munster estimated that an Apple HDTV could generate $2.6 billion in revenue in its first year on the market.

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