Should Apple update the Apple TV rather than make a television set? 

Could Apple’s advanced set-top box erase the distinction between live and on-demand TV?

Most of the excitement surrounds the idea that Apple might have an actual television in the pipeline, however, many are speculating that it might intend only to update the Apple TV set-top box in such a way that the company might be able to transform television without even having to build a telly of its own.

Read our AppleTV review.

However, there’s a lot of evidence that points towards an actual Apple television set, so we can be fairly certain the company is at least considering launching something of the sort. For example, during the summer of 2011, a former Apple executive, who spoke on the condition that he remain anonymous, claimed 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”.

There have also been reports from the Far East claiming that there’s a fully-fledged Apple television already in production. 

However, in late 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”.

In the short term, it’s likely that Apple will role out new features to its existing set-top box, and maybe introduce a revamped model. In doing so, it could test the waters for its television set. 

Of course, there’s still one voice calling out that Apple will announce a television this year. Gene Munster told Bloomberg: “The core of the debate is an improved set-top box… a hockey puck that attaches to your TV, or an actual television. 

“Based on our work, in part, with taking to suppliers in Asia, to talking with people in the industry, we think it’s an actual television.”

Wouldn’t Apple be Wiser to Update the Apple TV? 

There’s a school of thought that Apple would be better off concentrating its efforts on developing its current Apple TV device, rather than pursuing the idea of an actual television. 

However, some reports suggest that even the Apple TV, for so many years described by Apple as a hobby, is a dead end. The market for set-top boxes is a growing one, according to IHS iSuppli, but it’s still insignificant when compared to other markets, such as smartphones. 

One reason for this is that more and more smart TVs have the functionality built in. So why buy a separate box? 

However, in Apple’s favour is the low price of the Apple TV unit, which is a bargain at £99.