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It’s back again, which is to say the rumor of an Apple iOS-powered HDTV. The latest report says that Apple is working on a television set, launching in 2012.
A report in June cited a former Apple executive that said that Apple was teaming with an established TV OEM to delivery iOS-powered TVs.
The latest rumor comes from Venture Beat, which notes a number of indicators from various sites (including themselves) but focused a lot on venture capitalist Stewart Alsop, of Alsop Louie ventures.
Alsop figures the only thing holding Apple back is the cost of LCD screens, which has been a limiting factor in all of Apple’s iOS products since 2007.
It won’t be long, Alsop predicts, before 15-inch or 19-inch touchscreen televisions running iOS hit the scene, probably in time for the 2012 holiday season. That’s big enough to be a serviceable TV for the kitchen, bedroom or dorm room.
More importantly, iOS will enable Apple to transform the television into something that doesn’t just show videos, but also plays games, runs apps, lets you check your schedule and tweet about what YouTube movie you happen to watching at that moment.
Alsop feels that Apple can reinvent televisions, much as it did the smartphone. Remember the struggles people had using Windows Mobile and Symbian smartphones? Compare that with iOS and Android, where even grandparents storm down to the store to buy them.
However, as we noted earlier, television sets are traditionally a high volume, low margin business, and there is no lack of competitors. It wouldn’t seem like a good segment for Apple to enter.
Additionally, rather than the short 18 – 36 month replacement cycle (and let’s face it, some people tend to replace their iPhones every year and take the hit in terms of fees for early upgrades) of iPhones and MacBooks, televisions aren’t replaced that quickly. 3DTV makers are realizing that as they see that those who have only recently adopted HDTVs aren’t exactly eager to replace their HDTVs with 3DTVs.
That’s a different sort of market than Apple is used to.
There’s also the so-called Apple Tax, which is the premium that people are willing to pay for an Apple product. That might work well for a MacBook, but unless the Apple HDTV has some fantastic integration with iOS, it’s hard to see the Apple Tax selling well.
And after all, doesn’t a TV with iOS embedded in it sound a lot like Google TV, which hasn’t exactly been selling like hotcakes?
Still, if anyone can pull it off, it would be the Steve Jobs-led Apple. With Tim Cook in charge, as well as he’s done with day-to-day activities so far, it’s hard to predict.