Apple's next big thing may already be here says an analyst, who believes that a TV remote, instead of a HDTV itself, is the way forward for the company.

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said in a research note that he thinks "one of the best ways to increase the iOS device TAM [total addressable market] is by expanding use cases so that every home could use an iOS device as a TV remote," reports Apple Insider.

Reitzes says that, at present, the iPad is the best way to expand the TAM, but Apple should "make this product better through software – and allow it to control more tasks in your life".

He also notes that the rumoured iPad mini could be an ideal device to use as a TV remote. "We believe that the 7in screen on iPad mini could be used for traditional content consumption such as reading books or watching movies, but Apple may have bigger plans for this device over time," Reitzes writes. "We believe the big secret about Apple's TV strategy is not the TV itself – its about selling the remotes."

"With iCloud, we don't see any reason why Apple wouldn't eventually allow an iPad to be an interface for the TV – to perform basic computing tasks with a virtual keyboard like checking emails and calendars, surfing websites, editing your PhotoStream and even chat with iMessage," Reitzes says.

The analyst also says that, at some point in the future, Apple could make its devices a "central command" for the home, to control TVs as well as things like lights, garage doors, thermostats and more.

In July, Apple filed an application for a patent that covers an invention that would allow iOS devices to do just that. The patent covers technology that would use NFC chips to allow an iPhone, iPad or iPod to act as a remote control for various devices around the home, including other Apple devices, games consoles, digital cameras, and even sprinkler systems.

Apple TV set rumours have been running thin over the past few months, what with the excitement of the iPhone 5 and imminent iPad mini launch, but Reitzes says that he still expects it to be launched at some point, but not until Apple manages to negotiate a deal with content providers.