Apple prepping HDTV, analyst says
Apple's Smart TV could make its debut later this year, according to analyst firm Ticonderoga Securities.
By James Rogers, TheStreet
"At a China electronics trade show today, we picked up data points that are suggesting a Smart TV launch by Apple could occur near the end of this year," said Brian White, an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities, in a note released on Wednesday.
Apple overhauled its Apple TV device last year, adding streaming content from Netflix (NFLX), Google's (GOOG) YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe. But rumors have surfaced about an Apple-branded Smart TV, prompting talk that this could be Apple's next big product area.
"Our research suggests this Smart TV would go well beyond the miniature $99 second-generation Apple TV that the company released last fall and provide a full-blown TV product for consumers," wrote White. "The combination of Apple's powerful ecosystem, industrial design savvy, powerful brand and ability to reinvent product categories could make Apple a powerful force in the TV world over the next few years."
Morgan Stanley sees Smart TV as a way for Apple to consolidate a range of content onto one device, like TV, video, DVR and FaceTime video calling. This strategy has already proved successful on the iPad, and Smart TV might extend the company's reach further into the consumer market.
A number of companies, including Sony (SNE), LG and Samsung are touting Internet-connected TVs, an area that is poised for growth. The research firm DisplaySearch says that Web-connected devices accounted for 21% of the overall TV market in 2010; this figure is expected to grow dramatically over the coming years, boosted by broadband adoption in emerging markets.
"We have indicated in numerous reports in the past that we felt Apple would eventually enter the $100 billion LCD TV market," added Ticonderoga's White, who is currently on a tour of tech companies in China and Taiwan. "[The information picked up at the Chinese tradeshow] suggests [that Apple] appears to be moving down this path at a faster pace than the market expected."
Shares of Apple, which reports its second quarter results next week, were up $2.54, or 0.8%, to $334.94 on Wednesday, as the Nasdaq was gaining 0.7%.
Apple has not yet responded to TheStreet's request for comment on this story.
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