Do Apple iTV Rumors Seem Credible?

by Brad Moon | February 9, 2012 6:15 am

The web has been buzzing with rumors of a pending Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL[1]) television set, the so-called iTV.

In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson quoted the late Apple founder as saying “I finally cracked it,” in reference to a TV set that would be integrated with an owner’s entertainment peripherals and Apple’s iCloud.

Analyst Gene Munster, of Piper Jaffray, has been telling us to expect an iTV for more than a year now, and last week he was reporting Apple was buying up TV components in preparation for entering production.

Before the International Consumer Electronic Show in January, MacRumors and other sites were talking about claims that a 50-inch iTV prototype had been spotted in the lab of Apple senior VP of industrial design, Jonathan Ive. And then, last week, Best Buy (NYSE:BBY[2]) caused a fuss when it released a survey of what customers might expect in terms of features on an iTV; the survey contained hints of specs that could possibly be applicable for a production iTV.

Perhaps the most credible rumors to date emerged from Canada a few days ago. The Globe and Mail reported that Rogers Communications (NYSE:RCI[3]) and BCE (NYSE:BCE[4])—two of the country’s telecommunications giants—were actively in talks with Apple about iTV launch plans. Further, unnamed sources were quoted as saying that both Rogers and Bell actually have iTVs in their labs for testing. This would be a good thing since any Apple television product would undoubtedly include iCloud and probably iTunes integration for streaming content, and Canada’s Internet providers are notoriously stingy about download caps—an issue that’s already bitten Netflix during its Canadian expansion.

Is this yet more idle gossip, or is the truth about iTV beginning to emerge? The TV market isn’t exactly an inviting one at the moment, with many manufacturers losing money hand over fist, but rumors have been flying for months and sales have accelerated in recent weeks.

I suspect that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and that Apple’s iTV is real. The real questions now are release dates, display sizes, price, whether Siri voice control (and possibly motion control as well) will be present and whether Apple will go all out and include game-playing app functionality (a giant iPad in the living room).

The technicians at Rogers and BCE could probably speak to at least a few of those questions, but the Canadians are staying quiet for now.

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