There's a lot more to the relationship than the rumors of an Apple-branded TV suggest
Credit AllThingsD's John Paczkowski for finding the most headline-worthy nugget in the report issued Tuesday by Jefferies analyst Peter Misek on his recent trip to Japan.
The thrust of Paczkowski's story -- Apple Television Could Be Ready for Commercial Production by Feb. 2012 -- was echoed Wednesday by more than a dozen writers who had only his brief item to rely on.
But there's a lot more to Misek's full report that the suggestion that Apple (AAPL) could selling television sets by mid-2012. In fact, those three sentences are the note's vaguest and most speculative. The actual text:
For iTV we believe that Apple will take a line at the Gen 10 Sakai facility and produce a modified version of the Amorphous TFT. We believe retooling of the line has begun or is about to begin at the facility with February as a preliminary time frame for commercial production. This would put an iTV launch as early as the middle of 2012, which aligns with our other iTV checks. [emphasis ours]
Given how long rumors of an Apple-branded TV set have been floating around and the "fundamental go-to-market" problems Steve Jobs put his finger on 16 months ago, I wouldn't bet the farm on a mid-2012 launch.
So what did Peter Misek learn in Japan? The "key takeaway," as he calls it, is that Apple has sunk a lot of money -- as much as a billion dollars -- into a new supplier (most pointedly, not Samsung) and new screen technologies to build the next generation of iPads and iPhones with resolutions, battery life and prices its competitors will be hard-pressed to match. I quote:
The other section of Misek's report that's getting widely quoted -- about competitors "scrambling" to figure out what an iTV might be so as not to get "caught flat-footed" by Apple once again -- could apply just as well to everything else Misek saw on his trip to Japan.
Note: Misek also believes that reports of weakness in the iPad market have been overstated, and although he cut his Q1 2012 iPad shipment estimate from 17 million to 14 million, he said he was doing so "due to Europe macro issues and lack of carrier subsidization."
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