Talk of a game-changing Retina TV prototype locked away in a secret lair at 1 Infinite Loop pops up every now and again, but at this point, it's more of a punchline than a much-anticipated product.

And while many of the Apple TV (as in television set, not set-top box) rumors can be blamed on analysts like Gene Munster, who would like to think Apple will take over the HDTV market, the company itself has fueled the fire. It was Apple CEO Steve Jobs who in 2011 told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he had at long last cracked the TV user interface and wanted to make an "integrated television set." Jobs's successor Tim Cook has also mentioned Apple's big plans for TV.

But according to a new Wall Street Journal report, the Cupertino company just couldn't find a good enough reason to jump into the saturated TV hardware market currently dominated by Samsung. Apple spent 10 years brainstorming what it could deliver customers that other companies can't--everything from ultra HD displays to FaceTime on your TV set--but ultimately decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

Why this matters: Apple may have given up on making the display you lounge in front of, but it's still working on ways to revolutionize the way we watch TV. That effort includes a redesigned Apple TV set-top box and a streaming TV service bundle that would free you from cable, both of which are rumored to debut at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Carl Icahn still believes

But Apple's own plans haven't stopped investor Carl Icahn from publicly urging the company to deliver a television by next year. Icahn has long believed that Apple has a 55-inch and 65-inch TV up its sleeve, and that the company could rake in $15 billion on sales of 10 million TVs that sell for $1,500 apiece in 2016 alone.

Icahn's rosy take on Apple's future is a compelling one. In an open letter to Cook, Icahn waxed poetic on how a TV would function in the greater Apple ecosystem, perhaps alongside a larger iPad Pro that would serve as a second screen and an Apple Watch as the remote control. An Apple TV would boost sales of all Apple devices, Icahn predicted.

But the Wall Street Journal report shot down Icahn's hopes--the company apparently gave up on designing a TV set last year.