There's been no end of speculation that Apple has plans to launch either a television set or a new range of TV services. However, one analyst now claims that Apple executives have made it clear that there won't be a TV -- or a TV service -- any time soon.
Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves has issued an update based on a meeting on Wednesday with Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer and senior vice-president for internet services and software Eddy Cue. For anyone holding their breath for a TV, it's rather disappointing news.
"Relative to the television market," the note says, "Eddy Cue, Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services, reiterated the company's mantra that it will enter markets where it feels it can create great customer experiences and address key problems. The key problems in the television market are the poor quality of the user interface and the forced bundling of pay TV content, in our view".
Hargreaves goes on to say that while he believes that "Apple could almost certainly create a better user interface" than present on existing TVs, he says that "Cue's commentary suggested that this would be an incomplete solution from Apple's perspective unless it could deliver content in a way that is different from the current multichannel pay TV model".
So, just as with the iPod, iPhone and iPad, the actually TV hardware would only be part of the solution. Apple isn't just interested in selling the hardware, but in making the hardware a conduit into a content ecosystem.
He goes on to say that: "The differences in regional broadcast content and the lack of scale internationally also create significant hurdles that do not seem possible to cross at this point".
Making sense of broadcast content, it seems, is even beyond Apple and all its billions.
But some analysts continue to hold the torch for an Apple TV. Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Douglas J. Clinton continue to confidently believe that we will be able to buy an Apple TV next year.
"Our confidence that the Apple Television is real," writes Munster and Clinton in their latest company note on Apple, "is primarily based on our checks with component suppliers, as well as Steve Jobs' biography, and Tim Cook's comments on the June conference. We expect Apple could launch the TV in mid- to late-2013 and continue to believe the company will announce the TV [around] six months ahead of launch to freeze the market".
The note goes on to predict that the TV will be in the 42-inch to 55-inch size range and will retail for between $1,500 and $2,000.
A quick scan of Best Buy's website suggests that smart TVs in this screen size tend to retail for between $800 and $1,700, which means that -- if Munster's information is correct -- consumers would be paying quite a premium for the privilege of owning a TV with the Apple logo on it.
It should be noted that Munster has been talking about an Apple TV for over four years, and he confidently predicted that a standalone Apple TV would be available in 2011. He also predicted that Apple would be selling 6.6 million Apple TV set-top boxes in 2009 when in truth by 2011 Apple was barely selling 3 million units.
Image source: Apple.