Here's our round-up of the latest Apple Television rumours, including iTV concept photos and feature speculation. Read our Apple Television release date, rumours, and pictures article to find out more about what to expect from Apple's rumoured venture into the living room. (Image credit: Martin Hajek)
Updated on 9 April as Korean analysts claim that a company is providing 65in screens to Apple for the new television set.
Speculation about an Apple Television set has been circulating for several years, but the product has yet to surface. However, it is widely believed that Apple intends to launch a product in an attempt to take over the TV market as it has the MP3 player, smartphone and tablet markets. Whether that product is an actual television set or a significantly upgraded Apple TV box is a widely debated topic, so we've gathered the evidence and arguments into one place.
If you are interested in reading about what is in store for the Apple TV set top box you can find all the latest information here.
Will the Apple Television launch in 2014?
Analysts and industry watchers have been predicting the announcement of an Apple television set for years, often claiming that the launch is imminent only for months to pass with no sign of the television from Apple.
For example, many analysts were convinced that Apple would unveil an Apple television, or at least the smart TV’s operating system, at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2013, but were left disappointed when the event came and went with not sign of such product.
Perhaps the biggest Apple Television talker is Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who's remained a firm believer that Apple will launch a television since 2009. In fact, he's predicted an Apple Television every year since 2011.
Munster is still convinced that Apple will be launching a television set this year. But in a note to clients in April 2014 Munster added an air of caution, stating that: "Each month that passes without credible feedback from the supply chain reduces our confidence." This lack of confidence has no doubt been spured by claims that Steve Jobs is said to have called the television market a "terrible business".
Perhaps Munster is getting a little embarrassed about his soothsaying now. In November 2013, he took to the stage at the Business Insider IGNITION conference to claim that he had spoken to sources in Apple's supply chain who say that Apple is working on its own television. He says the reason we've still yet to see an Apple television is all down to content. It's widely believed that Apple keeps hitting a brick wall with media companies that won't settle on a content agreement for an Apple television.
During the presentation, he made a dig at himself by displaying a slide that read:
2009 – "Apple will launch a television by 2011" – Gene Munster
2011 – "Apple will launch a television by 2012" – Gene Munster
2012 – "Don't buy a TV today because Apple will launch one in 2013" – Gene Munster
2013 – "….." Gene Munster
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek believed that the Apple Television would launch in 2013, after apparently spotting 'iTV' prototypes "floating around". However, he later changed his mind (rightly so, as no Apple Television arrived in 2013), and decided that the Apple Television will launch sometime in 2014. The reason for the 'delay' appears to be that Apple wants to a 4K/Ultra HD-style display without the high cost, said Misek.
Misek now says: "We had thought that Apple's software and ecosystem would be enough to drive demand but our checks indicate that Apple wants the hardware to also stand out. We believe Apple wants a display that looks like 4K/Ultra HD but without the super-premium cost."
Despite most reports now pointing to a 2014 launch, November 2013 saw the release of a report from NPD DisplaySearch that said Apple is pushing back the launch of its Apple Television to 2015 or 2016, while it focuses on its iWatch smartwatch for this year.
Wedge Partners Senior Research analyst Brian Blair told Bloomnerg on 15 January this year that there's no evidence in the supply chain to suggest that an Apple Television is coming this year, but said that there is evidence to support the wearable tech rumours.
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also doesn't believe the Apple television – iTV – will launch in 2014. "Considering the high cost involved in creating a TV supply chain, we don't expect the iTV to debut before the TV ecosystem improves," he wrote in a note in April 2014.
We think that Apple may at one time have considered bring a television to market but are now considering it to be less wise, with the demand for television screns on the decrease. As such we may never see a television set from Apple, but that doesn't mean they never exaluated their options in this area.
What Steve Jobs said about an Apple television
The firmest evidence that Apple is working on a television came from Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs himself. Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that: “He very much wanted to do for television what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.”
"'I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,' Jobs told Isaacson. 'It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.' No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. 'It will have the simplest use interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.'"
A recent loss of confidence in the idea that Apple might be working on a television has lead to suggestions that when Jobs said he had "cracked" what was wrong with television, and masterminded a way to make it a better user experience, he wasn't referring to an actual television, but rather a software update to the Apple TV.
It should be noted that Steve Jobs died the day after the iPhone 4s launched with the Siri voice controlled assistant, and that it is entirely probable that he was referring to Siri as the means by which he would rescue TV. Obviously he wouldn't have thought that Siri would be in beta for the next two years.
The latest rumours about the new Apple TV suggest that the set top box will include motion control, suggests that Apple has looked away from Siri for a method to control the interface of the Apple TV.
However, claims in a recently published book that Apple's late CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs had ruled out making a television, have lead to some falling-off of the claims that Apple is working on a television set. The revelation appears in Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs by former Wall Street Journal reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane. Kane claims that on one occasion at a company retreat Jobs was asked whether Apple intended to release a television set and his response was: "no". Jobs went on to describe TV as a "terrible business," stating that "they don't turn over and the margins suck".
It looks like Steve Jobs caution was well placed. The global television market is in decline, according to a new report from IHS Technology. IHS Technology analyst Jusy Hong stated that: "The global TV market continues to be in transition following a golden period of tremendous growth from 2009 to 2011."
"Television shipments were down again in 2013 just like in 2012, but an unusual development was the slow market last year in China, Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe – until recently among the brighter spots for the industry
Last year HDTV sales fell by around 10%. Rather than focus on building a television, Apple could be wise to stick with a market that is experiencing growth," added Hong, according to Broadband TV News.
"Overall TV shipments in 2013 for North America fell 9% on the year, while Western Europe showed an annual loss of 4%," claims the report.
However, worldwide television shipment totals will start climbing this year due to the new active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) sets entering the market. These TV sets will feature thinner profiles and higher contrast ratios and shipments of these OLED TVs will grow to some 8.1 million units by 2018, according to IHS.
What Tim Cook has said about an Apple television
The above doesn't necessarily mean that Apple won't not launch a television set, there is no doubt that the Apple TV has become a big product for the company in recent years, now amounting to a billion dollar business for Apple. It is fair to say TV is no longer a hobby for Apple.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has also spoken about television on a number of occasions, leading to expection that the company intends to launch a television set. In February 2014, he spent a big chunk of time at Apple's yearly shareholder meeting discussing the Apple TV, telling shareholders that the company had sold more than $1 billion worth of the set-top boxes (and related content) in the last year. This means, according to Asymco analyst Horace Dediu, that Apple has sold around 28 million of the devices since its 2007 launch.
"It's a little more difficult to call it a hobby these days," he told the crowd of shareholders.
In an interview at D11 back in May 2013 the Apple CEO said the following about TV: "I think many of us would agree that there's lots of things about the TV experience that can be better, we answered some of those, clearly not all of those, with Apple TV, and we're going to continue to make that better," promised Cook.
He added: "When you look at the TV experience it's not an experience that I think may people love, it's not an experience that you would say has been brought up to date for this decade. It's still an experience that is still too much like it was ten years ago and in many cases 20 years ago. "
Cook hinted that Apple is testing the television market through the Apple TV set-top box, saying during the D11 conference that: "We're still playing in TV through Apple TV. I don't remember where we were last year, but let me give you a little bit of an update here, for several years we've been selling a few hundred thousand, we've now sold over 13 million, and about half of those in the last year."
Cook continued: "That business has found many, many more customers that love the Apple TV experience. That has been great for customers but also very good from a learning point of view for Apple."
This wasn't the first time Tim Cook had made a broad hint about a forthcoming Apple TV. During a February 2012 keynote at Goldman Sachs he said: "I wouldn't want to go into detail about future stuff, obviously… Apple doesn't do hobbies, as a general rule. We believe in focus and only working on a few things. With Apple TV, however, despite the barriers in that market, for those of us who use it, we've always thought there was something there. And that if we kept following our intuition and kept pulling the string, then we might find something that was larger. For those people that have it right now, the customer satisfaction is off the charts. But we need something that could go more main market for it to be a serious category."
Cook also revealed details about Apple and television in a couple of interviews in December 2012. He refused to outline any specific details, but did talk in length about the general design process at Apple, claiming that there is 'intense interest' in designing a good Apple Television. This 10 Apple Television facts that Tim Cook revealed article covers much of Cook's interview and how it relates to the Apple Television.
Cook also revealed that Apple has “some incredible things coming out,” and spent some time talking about the television business at D10 last year. Cook referred to the existing Apple TV set top box, described for years as a ‘hobby product’ for Apple, and hinting that there may be more potential. He also noted that, for many people, television is “an area in their life that they’re not pleased with” and suggested that Apple will “keep pulling this string and see where it takes us.”
And if they do keep pulling the strings, Apple will aim to make a “significant contribution far beyond what others have done in this area,” said Cook.
So Apple IS going to launch something amazing in the television market, but the question is when, and what?
What evidence is there that Apple will release a television set?
There is some evidence that a TV from Apple is on the horizon. Pixelworks revealed in an SEC filing in early March that Apple brings in more than 10% of its revenue.
Pixelworks develops video and pixel processing semiconductors, amongst other things, and its technology enables digital displays of all sizes to display high quality video with minimum power consumption. Pixelworks credits Apple with increasing adoption of higher resolution displays: "This transition was led by the mobile segment, and in particular by Apple's Retina display, which set the standard for smaller screens".
PTT Research analyst Mark Gomes believes that Apple and Pixelworks have been working together on an Apple television since last year.
In addition, a number of analysts have been pretty vocal about when they expect an Apple Television to launch, read on for more information...
What will Apple call its television?
There has been no solid conclusion about what Apple will call its television. There is already an Apple TV, the set-top box that bridges the gap between the internet and a standard television set.
One theory is that the rumoured iWatch – the name given to the theoretical Apple smartwatch – could actually be the name of the Apple television.
How much will the Apple television cost?
Munster found that if the price tag is more than $1,500 (around £900), as many experts have estimated, then more than 75 per cent of US consumers may not be willing to part with their cash.
Analysts say, and history suggests, that Apple's iTV will sell at the high end of the market. It will use the best components - the best screen, the best materials, and the best microphones (for voice recognition).
By comparison, most Smart TVs on sale now average at less than £2,009, but Samsung's recently launched 55in Curved TV is on the market for £6,999.99. We expect that the Apple Television will have a price tag higher than £900.
What the web says about Apple Television
A number of people have made comments about the Apple TV, from ex Apple employees to key technology websites.
In September 2011, Jean-Louis Gassée, a former president of Apple’s products division, said that an Apple television has ‘got to happen’.
Also in 2011, Bloomberg reported that three insiders with “knowledge of the project” confirmed that Jeff Robbin, the software engineer who built iTunes, is guiding development of the Apple television.
During the summer of 2011, a former Apple executive, who spoke only on the condition that he remain anonymous, confirmed that “the company’s biggest upcoming product launch” would be its entry into the flat-screen television market, and would “blow Netflix and all those other guys away.”
In August 2012, ex-Apple CEO John Sculley said that the television market is 'Apple's game to lose,' and that the success of the iPhone, iPad and Mac will give the company an edge in trying to take over the living room.
Also in August 2012, the Wall Street Journal suggested that Apple has changed its mind about making a television set, and is instead focusing on taking over the living room with an advanced set-top-box that will 'erase the distinction between live and on-demand TV'.
This theory has since been widely adopted by many Apple watchers, and seems like a more realistic option for the company, at least to begin with. Find out more about what to expect from future iterations of the Apple TV in our Apple TV rumour round-up.
However, in December 2012 the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was "in the early stages of testing" an Apple Television set, citing unnamed sources (presumed to be working for Foxconn).
Evidence that Apple is working on a television: hires & acquisitions
Other evidence that indicates that TV is, as Apple CEO Tim Cook said: "An area of intense interest for Apple" comes in the form of various hires and acquisitions by the company.
In July 2013 it emerged that Apple hired Hulu senior VP of Marketing and Distribution Pete Distad. Distad's role is be to negotiate future media deals, according to Bloomberg. That report claims that Distard led Hulu's push to make its app available on web-connected devices, including Apple TV. The Hulu Plus service is available to Apple TV owners in the US, it is a subscription TV service that provides content from ABC, NBC, Fox, the CW and Univision and costs $7.99 a month.
Back in February 2013 news that Apple had hired LG's OLED expert, who just happened to work for Samsung once-upon-a-time, emerged. James (Jueng-jil) Lee was a senior researcher at LG who had been working on creating a printed AMOLED TV (organic light-emitting diode) based television display, according to The OLED Association. Lee is "no doubt more knowledgeable about OLEDs that any of Apple's current staff, which is known to be quite strong," the Association suggests.
The acquisition of video discovery start-up Matcha.tv by Apple in August 2013 stirred up further speculation about Apple's TV plans. Matcha.tv was an iOS app that aimed to help users discover content by providing an overview of everything that is available to watch across a variety of services including Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Prime and more.
Matcha.tv also had a social aspect, which would let you see what your friends have been watching, a recommendation service and the ability to manage the content you've been watching from a universal queue.
Matcha's service could provide a valuable addition to the current Apple TV set-top box and/or a future Apple Television.
Another exciting Apple acquisition is PrimeSense, the Israeli company behind the 3D sensor technology in Microsoft's Kinect. The acquisition of PrimeSense could open up new possibilities for future Apple devices. The company's 3D sensor technology could be used in an updated version of the Apple TV or an Apple Television, for example, to enable users to interact using gestures.
Other evidence that Apple will launch a television
Apple is believed to have had its eye on LG Display as its TV panel supplier, and was predicted to start mass producing the components by the end of 2013 ahead of a projected early 2014 launch. LG Display or Sharp may supply 55in and 65in Ultra HD TV panels for a future Apple television set.
Apple’s primary manufacturing partner Foxconn’s interest in shares of display maker Sharp in June 2013 also fuelled rumours about the Apple television set.
A report suggests that Foxconn is readying its factories for a major push into television manufacture, in an effort to be less reliant on Apple. Foxconn already has a number of TV assembly clients, including Sony, Sharp and Toshiba. In addition, last year Foxconn spent around $840 million when it joined forces with Sharp to purchase Sharp's LCD panel factory in Sakai, Japan.
There are rumours that Corning could make Gorilla Glass for the TV screen. A quick look at Corning's website shows that the company is involved in TV: "By supporting the sleek, ultra-thin seamless designs that are a popular trend in today’s LCD TV industry, Corning Gorilla Glass is literally changing the face of LCD TV," it says.
Read on to find out all the rumoured specs and features of Apple's new iTV television set.