Apple 2.0

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The Apple-branded TV set: An analyst connects the dots

June 23, 2011: 10:57 AM ET

Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster believes an iOS television will succeed Apple TV in 2012

Click to enlarge. Source: Patently Apple

In the wake of a dubious prediction published Wednesday (DailyTech: Apple to Enter TV Display Business Late This Year) and its dismantling (TechCrunch: That Apple Television Is Coming This August Alongside The iPhone Nano (And Santa)) Gene Munster could hardly be expected to hold his tongue.

No one has championed the idea of an Apple-branded TV set (as opposed to the Apple TV set top box) more enthusiastically than Piper Jaffray's senior Apple analyst. He's been writing about the possibility -- despite Apple's demurrals -- for more than two years. In August 2009 he laid out a road map by which Apple would launch a television set with digital video recording and built-in home media functions within two years (i.e. 2011).

That hasn't happened. At least not yet.

But in a note to clients issued early Thursday, he jumped on "the recent chatter in the media" to lay out a new road map, one that leads to a launch in late 2012.

Here's how Munster connects the dots:

  • iCloud. "At first the only media iCloud will store is music and pictures, but we believe Apple may add movies and TV shows purchased or rented in iTunes to the iCloud service, which could be viewed on a TV."
  • Patents. "As recently as May-11 the US Patent & Trademark Office has published Apple patents relating to television-specific technology. In a patent published in Jan-11, Apple explores advanced TV broadcast menus that could be used in 'a display with built-in functionality (e.g, a television).'"
  • The App Store. "Apple has sold over 200 [million] iOS devices, has over 225 [million] iTunes accounts with credit cards, and developers have built over 425 [thousand] apps for the App Store in less than three years, including 90 [thousand] apps made specifically for the iPad in just 14 months as iPad unit sales reached over 25 [million]. In other words, Apple's strong iOS developer community would likely jump at the chance to build apps for an Apple Television, and Apple's iOS users would likely jump at the chance to buy one."
  • Big screens. "Recent developments in Apple's strategy, including the component deal we believe could secure up to 50" LCD displays, bolsters our confidence that the company remains serious about the connected living room."
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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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