Market Overview

Apple's TV to Launch Six Months Early?

New evidence suggests that Apple is set to make a major TV-related announcement.

But what, exactly, will that announcement entail?

Apple Insider speculates that Apple TV – the set-top box designed to stream iTunes videos to your television – is slated to get a refresh this spring. The publication made this assessment after discovering that the current Apple TV had disappeared from Best Buy's (NYSE: BBY) website.

Is this really something to get excited about? BestBuy.com adds and removes items all the time. But whenever Best Buy removes an Apple item from its storefront (virtual or otherwise), tech enthusiasts assume that a big announcement is coming.

To be fair, an announcement could be around the corner. Electronics retailers have been known to remove or reduce the price of MacBooks and other Apple items just before the refreshed lineup is released.

However, Apple isn't going to release another Apple TV anytime soon. That would be ridiculous. The company is largely believed to be launching its first television within the next several months. Analysts continue to argue about the release date and potential price point. But many believe that a fall 2012 release date and a $1,500 to $2,000 MSRP is feasible for a 42- to 50-inch set.

Whatever Apple decides to do with its television strategy, there is no chance that the company would distract and confuse consumers by releasing a TV-related product that isn't very profitable. How would Apple differentiate between its tiny device, which is currently branded as Apple TV, and its own television set, which is frequently referred to as an Apple TV?

If the disappearance of one item can truly confirm that a new product is about to be announced, then there is only one thing it could be: Apple's long-awaited television set.

It might seem like this is too soon, and it probably is, especially with the iPad 3 making its public debut in just a few weeks. But it's possible that Apple is changing its strategy and may actually unveil two major products back-to-back. It's also possible that the iPad 3 could be a key component of Apple's first TV (ex: the iPad could be the best TV remote in the world).

There is one other possibility, however. It is wholly possible that the iPad 3 will incorporate all (or most) of the features of the existing Apple TV. That being the case, Apple would no longer need to continue selling its set-top box; it could simply encourage Apple TV fans to buy an iPad instead. This would explain why Best Buy pulled (or sold out of) the device.

It would also give Apple a significant hyping point for its third iPad, which many expect to be a minor upgrade to the iPad 2. (Personally, I believe the rumors that suggest the iPad 3 will have a revolutionary battery that lasts twice as long as the original. That, above everything else, could get people to drop their old iPads for a new one.)

By cramming the power of Apple TV into the iPad 3, consumers would essentially get an additional $100 worth of technology from their $500 device. There are a lot of ways Apple could spin this in marketing the new tablet. Look at what the company did (and continues to do) with Siri. Now that the iPhone 4S has sold nearly 40 million units worldwide, the company is finally producing commercials that involve more than silly questions like, “Is it going to snow today?” No one cares about that, especially when you can click on a weather app much faster than you can ask the question. But show people how they can become a rockstar with their iPhone 4S and they will surely take notice, ensuring that the device will continue to sell millions of units until the day the iPhone 5 arrives.

The iPad 3 is expected to have Siri functionality. Now imagine if Apple TV technology is added to the tablet as well. You could feasibly use your voice to control your TV without having to buy an entirely new television! It would undercut and devalue the hype surrounding Samsung's new line of Smart TVs. It would also help consumers become comfortable with the idea of letting Apple infiltrate their living rooms (you know – just in case they needed some convincing).

Follow me @LouisBedigian

Posted-In: Apple Apple Television Apple TV Apple’s television iPad 3 iPhone 4S SIRINews Rumors Tech Best of Benzinga

 

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