Visions of the “digital living room” having been dancing in the heads of industry leaders for over a decade, but no one solution has broken into the mainstream. Now, Apple may be preparing for a significant push based on the success of iTunes and the iPod. Or so predicts analyst Gene Munster of investment bank Piper Jaffray, which thinks that Apple will give it a shot by introducing its own brand of networked television.
Piper Jaffray’s report says that indications from Apple’s management, coupled with Apple’s DVR and TV-related patent filings and partnership with LG, have led it to conclude that Apple will introduce a connected television to the market in 2011.
The Apple TV (not to be confused with Apple TV) could be an integrated all-in-one device that combines a Blu-ray/DVD player, music playback, cable box, and DVR to synchronize recorded programming with Macs, iPhones and iPods. It may include gaming features, according to the report.
Apple would be wise to capitalize on the ecosystem that it has created around iTunes, and its strong brand. Apple has already laid the groundwork to introduce an actual television with its Apple TV digital media receiver. Synchronization has been key to Apple’s success, and Apple has made Apple TV work well with iTunes.
Piper Jaffray noted that Apple TV sales were already growing substantially, and that Apple may sell as many as 6 million units this year.
Research analysts have a mediocre record at best when it comes to predicting what Apple will and won’t do. Still, an elegant, consolidated Apple media device would simplify the tangle of wires that many of us have in our living rooms with the added bonus of a wealth of content contained in its iTunes media library.
If the price is right, it sounds like it could be a winner to me. But the real question is whether it sounds that way to Apple.