Apple's New TV May Be Closer Than You Think


Start saving up your money, couch potatoes. Apple's (NAS: AAPL) new TV may hit the market as early as this upcoming summer.

According to DigiTimes -- the Taiwanese publication that has turned its connections with Apple's Asian supply chain providers into occasionally reliable rumor mill fodder -- the tech giant's new TVs will hit the market by the second or third calendar quarter of 2012.

Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, who has been predicting Apple's move into full-blown high-def TVs for nearly three years, has been calling for a release in time for next year's holiday shopping season. If the DigiTimes report is to be believed, Apple doesn't want to even play it that close.

DigiTimes is reporting that Samsung began producing the chips that will power the smart TVs last month, and that Sharp will be making the displays. The initial TVs will come in 32-inch and 37-inch models.

The screen sizes may seem small to those considering home theater makeovers next year, but you can't blame Apple for starting with smaller displays. Staying in the sub-40-inch camp will allow Apple to keep production costs down. Logistically speaking, this will also make it easier to stock at its growing network of Apple Store locations. Can you really picture shoppers lugging out 46-inch flat screens or bringing them back for repair?

We still don't have a name for Apple's new line of televisions. Apple TV won't work because it will confuse consumers with the set-top boxes under that name that the company has been selling for years. The iTV name being bandied about -- including in DigiTimes -- is trademarked by another company.

The name won't matter. Many scoffed at the iPad name at first, and that obviously played out well for Apple. Regardless of the name, there's no denying that this rollout will be disruptive to the industry.

Television sales have been in a funk. Google (NAS: GOOG) has largely flopped since its Google TV rollout late last year. Hoping to turn around its unprofitable television business, Sony (NYS: SNE) just announced that it was bowing out of its joint-venture partnership for LCD displays with Samsung. Sluggish high-def TV sales have stuck consumer electronics giant Best Buy (NYS: BBY) with more than a year of crummy results.

If there was ever a time for Apple to step into a moribund industry begging to be updated, this would be it.

Summer may seem to be a slow time for big-ticket entertainment gadgetry, but why wait if Apple is ready? The market's dying for a company to get it right.

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At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy, Google, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have also recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple and writing covered calls in Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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