Saturday, February 5, 2011

Is an Apple TV set next? Patents may Indicate Yes.

Will Apple enter the business of television manufacturing?  There are valid arguments on both sides.  Those against it mainly argue that there are simply too many tv manufacturers and the margins for tv sales are too low, especially when compared to the margins Apple is accustomed to.  Proponents would counter by citing Apple's ability to simplify and beautify everything it makes, enabling it to stand out among the crowded tv market and allow Apple to charge higher prices, just like it does with its iPhones and Macs.  Also, an Apple television would be part of a larger Apple strategy, the total domination of home electronics. 

Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray and long-time Apple bull, thinks Apple will come out with a tv in 2012.  After talking to some supply sources in Asia, he believes that the long-term supply agreements referenced by Apple COO Tim Cook during the Apple conference call in January includes screens for a television set.

But a more telling story might be the patents that Apple has filed for.  They recently filed applications for patents related to LCD tvs and tv remotes.  Granted, the filing of a patent doesn't prove the company will come out with a product, however it does show interest.

My take?  Sure, why not?  I can envision using my iPad to as a remote control for my tv.  I already use it to control Netflix and iTunes music via Airplay.  I can see Apple coming out with beautiful looking 42 inch tv set, their iMacs are already 27 inches (and if history is any indication, will get larger).

Would I buy one?  Maybe.  For me to pay a premium for a television, there has to be something special besides looking better than other tvs and connectivity with other Apple devices.  I want 3D without the stupid glasses.  Apple was granted a patent for this last year.  However, winning a patent doesn't mean they can actually manufacturer a product that works well.  We will just have to wait and see, but knowing Apple's history, I would not bet against them.

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