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Apple testing TV sets with a view to content sales


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 12 Dec 2012 at 11:50

Apple is exploring building TVs in a move that would expand its interest in the living room and bring new customers into the iTunes fold.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is working with equipment manufacturers in Asia on a TV design that could see the company sell hardware as well as more content.

The company already has a TV set-top box on the market, with 2.7 million units sold this year, according to Apple's Tim Cook.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is working with Hon Hai, owner of Foxconn, which also manufactures the company's iPhones and iPads, and has been testing the televisions with the company.

The potential for consumer lock-in that the television creates will likely drive platform companies to continue exploring the space

Initial tests are normally carried out in-house, so the project could be moving towards production, although sources told the WSJ that "it isn't a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing".

Apple has previously stated that the television market was something that it wanted to make "more than a hobby", but it has so far seen little traction with its set-top boxes.

Content ambitions

The news of the plans comes as Hon Hai is looking to exploit its recent investment in part of a $10bn former Sharp factory that specialises in large LCD panels that might fit Apple's ambitions.

Although ambitious hardware is key, the company will be equally interested in getting less technical TV viewers into its walled garden, with the potential for lucrative earnings from film and programme sales and rentals.

"The potential for consumer lock-in that the television creates will likely drive platform companies to continue exploring the space," said Goldman Sachs in a report cited by the Journal.

"As such, while the battle is just getting started on this front, we see it as having the potential to either further entrench current winners such as Apple, or completely disrupt the market once again."

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User comments

Better fix Apple TV firmware first

Dropped homeshare, frequent crashes when streaming from iTunes, unable to see network after being in "sleep" mode.
These problems started with the 5.1 firmware and got worse with 5.1.1.
Apple need to fix their CURRENT products before embarking on a new range.

By cheysuli on 12 Dec 2012


Yeah I'd love to pay double the price for a TV that is locked into a walled garden. No thanks.

By everton2004 on 12 Dec 2012

If Steve were still here...

...I'd expect we'd all have to have Apple TVs forced at 26" screen sizes. Any larger than that would be too unwieldy and over-sized and any smaller and everyone would have to use binoculars.

Because obviously everyone has the same size/layout living room just as everyone has the same hand/finger size...

By bioreit on 12 Dec 2012

Time will tell....

The days when having the fruity label on the box ensuring World Domination are gone, methinks.

Unlike all their previous forays into the 'consumer space' they're fighting with incumbents who have already innovated, and continue to do so at speed.

Let's not write-off Microsoft who have the opportunity (and the smarts if they use them) to provide the 'glue' in all this.
XBOX 720 running on decent near-silent hardware providing the capability to both STORE & PLAY movies, games, streamed (Live?) TV in a provider-agnostic environment (Netflix, LoveFilm et al) is a succulent prospect.
Add tight integration with Windows 8\RT and WP8.

This makes Apple's famed 'Walled Garden' look a bit sparse & parochial.

By wittgenfrog on 12 Dec 2012

They're wasting their time...

...faffing about trying to make a TV set. They'd be much better off putting resources into making a good Apple set-top box, or a really cheap Mac Mini, rather than the hobbled brick they're selling now.

By John_Greythorne on 13 Dec 2012


I completely agree. I am so tired of turning my ATV on and off, quitting iTunes and then restarting it in the hope it will see my library.

What p!33e3 me off the most is when I try quit iTunes as the ATV doesn't see my library and iTunes says "One or more ATV's are connected to iTunes". No they bloody aren't otherwise I wouldn't be restarting you, you tw@t.

I live in South Africa where download speeds are ridiculously slow so online content is not an option which is why I use the ATV as the way it organises shows etc is great.

What other options can you guys recommend?

By kingjulian on 13 Dec 2012

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