The Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter,” claims that Apple (AAPL) is set to release a TV set after sources in Asia said the U.S. company is working with component suppliers Sharp and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., (also known as Foxconn) on testing “a few designs” for a large format HDTV.
According to unnamed persons with Taiwan’s Hon Hai, which assembles the iPhone and iPad, the project is in its early stages:
“It isn’t a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing,” said one source.
While rumors of such a product have persisted for years — Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster has been saying every year for the last three years that an Apple TV is a sure thing — the report is significant because the tests are taking place at Sharp’s Sakai plant in western Japan. According to the Journal, the plant — one of the most advanced LCD facilities in the world — is capable of producing sets over 60 inches in size, and Foxconn, which controls a 37.6 percent stake in Sharp’s Sakai plant, has been using it to produce similar sets for Vizio this year.
The report comes at a time when speculation over the mythical Apple TV has never been higher. In a recent interview, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook suggested that Apple’s interest in television has progressed beyond a “hobby.”
“It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that,” said Mr. Cook in an interview with NBC News.
Before we get carried away with this latest Apple TV rumor-report, which will most probably launch yet another round of frantic speculation about the iTV, the Journal cautions that Apple “could opt not to proceed with the device.”
“[N]o matter what they say or don’t say, Apple is — like nearly every other technology company — extremely interested in developing products for your living room,” a cynical Engadget notes. “Unfortunately, for reasons ranging from studio licensing agreements to DRM to a lack of access to pay-TV provider data/content, it’s very difficult to do with the level of polish and control of experience Apple would like.”
Shares of Apple are $6.81 higher at 548.01 in pre-market trading on Wednesday.