Apple's mythical TV could be called 'iPanel'

I'm not even convinced that Apple needs to make a TV.

Another day, another TV-related Apple rumor. This time Jefferies analyst Peter Misek wades in with speculation that Apple's entry into the TV market will be called 'iPanel.'

Misek had this to say in a research note quoted by sister-site CNET:

"We now believe the iTV could be called "iPanel" as it is far more than a TV; it is a display, gaming center, media hub, computer, home automator, etc. Also, Apple would likely have difficulty getting naming rights from the UK TV network ITV."

A few thoughts spring from this.

The first is that I'm pretty certain that the name 'iPanel' is a guess shot in the dark, much like the iTV name that's been thrown around previously. That "could" is a giveaway, and it's not a name that has ever been associated with an Apple television previously.

Misek is throwing everything into this 'iPanel' in an attempt to jazz up the idea. The television itself is just a small part of the equation here, but it's also the unnecessary bit. Gaming, media hub, computer: these are all applications already covered by existing Apple technology that can connect to any TV. Apart from the actual display part, I'm still left wondering why any this needs to be a full-blown TV rather than a small box that connects to any TV that has an HDMI port, like the Apple TV or a Mac mini.

I'm surprised that there's no mention or Siri or some Kinect-esque hand waving controller. This suggestion has been at the heart of most Apple TV rumors since the technology made an appearance on the iPhone 4S.

A "home automator" is an interesting idea, and it's quite original, but that is such a niche market that I really can't see Apple getting into something like that. There are simply too many variables to accommodate.

Misek also wades in with speculation -- based on analysis of building permits and satellite images -- that Apple is planning to double the size of its already massive North Carolina data center, and that this capacity will be devoted to television content. This may be the case, but what Misek fails to point out is that the new Apple TV with its support for 1080p could offer a reason why Apple might want to expand its data center.

I've talked a lot about Apple TV rumors here, and each rumor leaves me feeling cold. There's nothing compelling or innovative about any of the rumored Apple TVs, iTVs; or iPanels guessed at by analysts and pundits. It reminds me of all the iPhone speculation before the device was officially announced. Almost all the speculation was inside-the-box thinking and derivative.

I'm not even convinced that Apple needs to make a TV. Using similar logic you could argue that Apple needs to make car stereos -- or even the whole car -- when in reality all it needs to do is make devices that can connect to car stereos (for example, iPods, iPhones and iPads, and leave the actual stereo part for others to handle.

The seed for a number of these TV rumors comes from another rumor that Apple is buying up 32-inch LCD panels. My betting is that these panels will end up in 32-inch iMac units and not TVs.

If Apple is working on a TV or an 'iPanel' or whatever, one thing I'm certain of is that it's not going to be anything like the Franken-TV being guessed at by pundits and analysts.

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