Analyst: Apple to debut TV set in December

"We believe Apple could ultimately capture 10 percent of the market within 1-3 years after launch".
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Another day, and another analyst pontificates about the mythical Apple TV.

Today it's the turn of Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster to gaze into his crystal ball. If you're thinking of buying a TV but are interested in what Apple might have to offer, then you might want to wait, because Munster believes that Apple could unveil its much-anticipated TV in December, and have it ready to ship early in the new year.

In a research note, Munster outlines that any TV that Apple sells will retail for between $1,500 and $2,000 and come in a range of sizes, from 42-inch all the way up to 55-inch. 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.

Munster doesn't believe that price is a problem though, pointing out that Bang & Olufsen will start selling a 40-inch V1 TV next month that will retail for $3,700.

By announcing the TV in December, Munster believes that Apple would "freeze the market" for those consumers in the market for a new TV and create pent-up demand for the product ahead of its launch.

According to Munster, it will be possible to control the Apple TV using an iPhone or iPad, and it may feature the Siri voice-control technology and have access to Apple's App Store.

"We believe Apple could ultimately capture 10 percent of the market within 1-3 years after launch," writes Munster.

Munster has been talking about an Apple TV now for more than four years now. He confidently predicted that a standalone Apple TV would be available in 2011. He also predicted that Apple would sell 6.6 million Apple TV set-top boxes in 2009 when in truth by 2011 Apple was barely selling 3 million units.

On Thursday, James McQuivey, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, blogged about how he believed that the best way for the Cupertino-based giant to break into the dwindling market was by 'thinking outside the box' and manufacture the "world's first non-TV TV".

This non-TV TV, which he called the iHub, would feature a 32-inch screen with touch, gesture, voice, and iPad control and could be hung on the wall wherever the family congregates for planning, talking, or eating. McQuivey believes that the key to success is not content, but apps.

What no one seems to be addressing is where's the market for these overpriced Apple TVs? There seems to be an incredible amount of rabid Apple fanboyism surrounding these rumors that assumes that people will buy anything that Apple makes, at whatever price point that Apple decides. In which case, why isn't the iPad an $1,000 device, and how come Apple is having a hard time penetrating into the living room with the existing Apple TV set-top box?

Another problem with these Apple TV rumors is that they all fail to address how the TV will differ from the set-top box, or what the set-top box could be configured to do via a software update. It seems to be that the only advantage a TV would offer over a device that connects to any HDMI-capable TV set is that people wouldn't need to figure out where that HDMI cable plugs in.

Now how much would you be willing to pay for that?


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