Last week it was revealed that Apple has made a secret investment of nearly $4 billion to make sure that a steady stream of device displays would be available for its myriad products. It didn't take one financial analyst too long to reach a none-too-surprising conclusion: In addition to providing for future iPhones, iPads, and iMacs, the investment is a sign Apple is gearing up to eventually release its own HDTV.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has made a name for himself among fanboys predicting that the computing giant would make the leap from Apple TV to an Apple TV, so the supply-chain investment is just another indication to him that the company is readying a set for release by the end of 2012. AppleInsider.com quotes Munster concluding that:
While Apple's commitment to the living room remains a 'hobby,' we continue to believe the company will enter the TV market with a full focus, as an all-in-one Apple television could move the needle when connected TVs proliferate.
It's not a far-fetched idea, mind you, though connected TVs have not been the runaway success that manufacturers have hoped for. An Apple TV would no doubt rope in the iPhone, iPod, and iPad as part of its eco-system, but apps to use those devices as remote controls are quickly becoming a dime a dozen. An Apple HDTV might be the one brand that could withstand the downward pricing pressures that other television manufacturers like Sony have had to endure, as we know people will buy Apple products no matter how much more they cost than the competition.
Can Apple finally succeed where many others have failed at integrating the online world with a TV set? (At least it's probably smart enough to include built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi instead of just an Ethernet port, unlike some HDTV manufacturers.) We'll seemingly have plenty of time to debate the issue while we wait -- and maybe someone else will really figure it out before then.