Jefferies: Apple TV launch is 'imminent' (...again)

Jefferies analyst James Kisner believes that an Apple TV is "imminent," but he's hardly the first analyst to make confident predictions about an Apple TV that turned out to be wrong.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

One of the longest-running Apple rumor is back: the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant is preparing to unleash a television on the world.

The latest prediction comes from Jefferies analyst James Kisner in a note about cable technology company Arris.

In the note, Kisner says that one multi-system operator (MSO), a company that operates multiple cable television systems, is "working to estimate how much additional capacity may be needed for a new Apple device on their broadband data network". This, according to Kisner, "potentially suggests an imminent launch of the Apple TV".

There's been no end of speculation about Apple releasing a television. If I confine my search to this year, the rumors kicked off with Piper Jaffray's analyst Gene Munster who first outlined three scenarios for an Apple TV, then went on to predict that an Apple TV could make an appearance sometime in December, and that it will retail for between $1,500 and $2,000. He also said it would arrive in a range of sizes, from 42-inch all the way up to 55-inch.

It's worth pointing out that Munster's been talking about an Apple TV now 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.

Back in May, Forrester principal analyst James McQuivey said: "[the] TV business is a tough nut to crack" and that Apple should begin manufacturing the "world's first non-TV TV," which he saw as being a 32-inch iPad that could be hung on a wall.

This is not the first time that a Jefferies analyst has made an Apple TV prediction that turned out to be wrong. Back in June, Peter Misek confidently expected Apple to unveil a TV at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Alas, no such device was unveiled.

Some analysts are more cautious. Following a meeting with Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer and senior vice-president for Internet services and software Eddy Cue, Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves said that: "Apple could almost certainly create a better user interface," but that it "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."

The 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). 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 would have to go.

Now how much would you pay for that?

Image source: Apple.

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