Apple currently testing several large screen HDTV-set designs, sources say

“Apple Inc. is working with component suppliers in Asia to test several TV-set designs, people familiar with the situation said, suggesting the U.S. company is moving closer to expanding its offerings for the living room,” Lorraine Luk and Jessica E. Lessin report for The Wall Street Journal. “Officials at some of Apple’s suppliers, who declined to be named, said the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has been working on testing a few designs for a large-screen high-resolution TV.”

“Two people said Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., 2317.TW +0.63% which assembles the iPhone and iPad, has been collaborating with Japan’s Sharp Corp. on the design of the new television,” Luk and Lessin report. “‘It isn’t a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing,’ said one of the people.”

Luk and Lessin report, “Apple supplier Hon Hai, known by the trade name Foxconn, has been expanding into the market for large high-resolution TVs, capitalizing on chairman Terry Gou’s investment in a Japanese liquid-crystal-display factory that used to be owned by Sharp. In July, Mr. Gou, through his investment firm, took a 37.6% stake in the operator of an LCD factory in Sakai, western Japan, to become a co-investor along with Sharp. Under that deal, Hon Hai receives up to half of the panels manufactured at the plant and those panels can be used for any TV sets.

“The Sakai plant, which cost Sharp more than $10 billion to build in 2009, is particularly suitable for making LCD panels 60 inches or larger for TV sets,” Luk and Lessin report. “In a recent media interview, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook suggested that the company’s interest in television has progressed beyond a ‘hobby.’ He likened turning on a TV today to going ‘backwards in time by 20 to 30 years.’ ‘It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that,’ said Mr. Cook in the interview with NBC News.”

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22 Comments

  1. Surely they would just look like an imac but with an even flatter/smaller back, or their monitor (either as is now, or with any forthcoming redesign).

    A TV is a rectangular screen, there’s nothing overly revolutionary they can do with it that they can’t also do to their monitors and the iMac.

    The trick will be how it integrates services and external devices, and the software it runs. Not that design is ever unimportant at apple, but how the TV looks will be the relatively easy part – within whatever budget they want to apply to sell it at.

    1. What did Apple ever do that is Revolutionary? Evolutionary you bet but not Revolutionary. Most of our modern day tech (Post 1970’s is an evolution of design and concepts that were tabled in the 40’s 50’s and 60’s. I often times look at my iPhone and think back to the first BlackBerry, the first Palm Pilot, Kyocera etc… and celebrate the evolution but certainly not the revolution.

      Just look at Apple’s designs cues and they are Dieter Rams reincarnated. Evolutionary indeed.

      1. Right. The only revolutionary thing that has ever been done is the discovery of fire. Brilliant perspective.

        Perhaps you need to lower the bar a bit?

        Also, if you want to “think back” from the iPhone, remember that Apple’s Newton came before the Palm Pilot and Blackberry.

      2. I have to disagree. MDN’s frequent postings of iPhone side by side with previous gen smartphones and blackberry phones demonstrates that very clearly. There were many elements of the iPhone, from hardware to software to business model, that were very much against not only the norm, but what most tech pundits believed consumers would want, eg virtual keyboard only.

        I suppose if your bar for revolutionary is covered wagon-> car or no phone->phone, then sure, it doesn’t meet that. Would even phone->cell phone meet your criteria? After all, they still look like phones, just with no cord. Oh, wait, there is something besides appearance that is fundamentally different?!?! Who would have thought.

        1. In disagreeing you actually agree? You see the REVOLUTIONARY products are the first of its kind the balance of which are evolutions. The first automobile was the revolutionary product. Sure today automobiles are sexier, more reliable etc… but they still serve the same purpose that stemmed from the primary invention.

          Jony Ives as an example clearly gets his design cues from Dieter Rams but he adds evolutionary manufacturing components and receives a Monarchist Title for doing so. 🙂 I love my Apple devices but there is nothing revolutionary about them. Evolutionary without any doubt and quality to die for but not in any way revolutionary. Apple will do the same with SIRI. They will evolve the app as they move along after purchasing the tech 6 years ago.

          1. The first automobile was revolutionary only in the sense that by combining for the first time a whole bunch of pre-existing technologies it afforded the consumer a new advantage and solution to some of his needs. And yet Apple isn’t allowed that same judgement? If you want to say that the all-in-one computer was evolutionary rather than revolutionary, I’d say you’re not looking at where Apple is making the solutions that it has since Steve returned: The entire user experience is composed of enough evolutionary improvements to be judged revolutionary. From the packaging of the products to the marketing, to the OS design and the hardware and the supporting infrastructure surrounding it all — it all adds up to revolutionary. Even if you don’t see the forest for the trees, the worldwide adoption of these products suggests that the consumer is judging them to be a revolution compared to what they had available to them before.

            1. SJ was a retail sales expert hence a lot of what you point out is marketing and evolutionary marketing ploys are abound in this world. And please take it easy with your perspective on the Worldwide adoption as Android numbers do not support this claim and certainly not on the PC side of the ledger. Apple Inc. after 37 years in business has enjoyed a great 5 year run and that is great for any for profit company but none of what we purchase from them is revolutionary. Evolutionary… you bet it is. While not a fan, Android is also extremely evolutionary as evidenced by the Galaxy Note 2 but certainly not revolutionary.
              Best to say that it is all about perspective and my use of the word revolutionary is isolated to the original and not the follow up inventions or evolution. Man taking its first flight was revolutionary the Airbus 380 is evolutionary etc…

      3. That’s my point, Apple aren’t going to get into the TV business just to have something that looks slightly like an iMac or one of their LED monitors, but that still operates exactly like an existing TV. And since there isn’t anything dramatic they can do to the physical appearance alone – evolutionary or revolutionary, it’s the software and connected services that will matter.

    1. And the usual Apple Tax which I refused to pay for Sony back in the day and about to refuse to pay Apple Inc. Buy a nice TV at Costco, throw in Apple TV or an alternative and voila or even go with a Mac Mini or mini PC.

      For the record, PS3 still rocks it out and Xbox and the new Nintendo console are also very sweet and all 3 turn any TV into a smart TV.

  2. How a TV looks is important. If I see another flat screen set with a distracting, piano-black bezel, I’m gonna scream. In theory, I get the perceptual, contrast-improving concept. In practice, all they do is frame the content with highly-reflective pinpoints of light from our real-world homes and offices. Piano-black bezels. Dumbest. Idea. Ever.

    1. I’m good with a black bezel if it is thin enough. However, I do agree that there is plenty of room for something new or better. Some of the Panasonics have gone another direction that is quite nice.

    2. OK, put up or shutup. What would be better, highly polished chrome perhaps?

      Seems like many Bezels on many models of the newest tech (LCD and LED, NOT plasma) are barely there. I don’t know if its possible to create a bezel-less large panel TV. Structural issues most likely. Any engineers please comment.

  3. Hardware design will be important but clearly the biggest challenge is coming up with an interface that will aid discovery of new programming.
    Items I like about current cable TV setup
    1. DVR
    2. Remote programming

    Items I dislike:
    1. Poor search facilities with remote
    2. Limited DVR capacity esp for HDTV
    3. Limited on-demand esp for current shows

    Ideally want to be able to get content when and where I like. Netflix has a good interface but the level of streaming content is low esp for current material.

    With the iPhone and iPad there was not really anything that competed at the same level. Sure RIM was there but the functionality was poor.
    For a TV system, Apple would really need to up the game. Being able to manage your own content and items you stream from a service. It cannot really just be about a conduit for the Apple Store.
    For me the Apple TV works very well. Because of the price point I don’t maintain high expectations. I get access to my own content plus can rent or stream from Netflix. The interface is okay and maybe a step in the right direction.

  4. I own 2 1080p Samsung HDTVs, the oldest being less than 4 years of age. It would take something substantial, like 4k to get me to upgrade as I’m still very happy with both sets.

    1. Most sets today aren’t really designed for a long life span. How does something a few years ago that cost $15,000 and now $1000 reconcile itself? Cheaper components & compromises.

      The inevitable upgrade cycle is something
      Apple will be able to take advantage of and I suspect they hold the long term view of this. Eventually EVERYONE will need to upgrade due to obsolescence. Also there is the showroom appeal at an Apple Store that will increase the lust and accelerated acquisition factor.

      1. Exactly! That race-to-the-bottom pricing commits those manufacturers to a path of not innovating. They can’t afford to bet on new technologies. Apple, with $122B in cash, can foster and develop new technologies that can revolutionize an industry. The touchscreen used by the iPhone was not commercially succeeding prior to the iPhone, but Apple was able to commit to quantity and support the development/manufacturing to make it viable. My view is that if Apple were to sell a “rectangle with rounded corners” version of a large format display panel, there’ll be something new about it that we’ll look back on as a hard left turn in the history of television. It may no be picturable the way MDN shows the Android phones before and after iPhone, but it’ll be of the same magnitude.

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