More from Munster: This Time, it’s an Apple TV (Set)

apple-tv2Remember Gene Munster? He’s Piper Jaffray’s Senior Analyst, and has been talking about tablets for most of this year. Well, now he’s got a new string to his bow and is talking about an Apple TV. Not ‘Apple TV’. An Apple TV. An actual, hardware, big-screen television.

In an article from Philip Elmer-DeWitt over on Fortune’s Apple 2.0 blog, Munster is quoted thusly;

“TV hardware is a challenging business if you don’t change the rules of the game, but we see potential for Apple to offer best-in-class software and hardware and charge a premium.”

“The argument that Apple will not enter the television market because prices have declined by ~70% in the past three years is a similar argument used to conclude Apple would not enter the cell phone market, given phones had seen similar price declines. The bottom line, 10 million HDTV’s sold in the US a year is a real market, and if history repeats itself, Apple will find a way to compete in a commoditized market with a premium priced product.”

It would be unforgivable for a Senior Analyst not to provide compelling supporting evidence for his predictions, so, accordingly, Munster mentions patents covering digital video recording and an agreement worth $500 million Apple made with LG to provide them with LCD screens.

Oh – and if that’s not enough to convince the most hardened skeptics among you, Munster throws-in a quote from Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook from last July, when he stated the company will continue to invest in Apple TV because “we fundamentally believe there is something there for us in the future”.

And there’s nothing more satisfying than a product roadmap, right? So here’s the short version;

  1. A new Apple TV box “within the next few months” with TV-in and DVR capabilities
  2. An iTunes TV Pass within the next twelve months, costing $30-$40 per month – a service Munster thinks can “effectively replace a consumer’s monthly cable bill”.
  3. Finally, an Apple television set within the next two years.

Says Munster:

“Such a device would command a premium among a competitive field of budget TVs; we believe Apple could differentiate itself with software that makes home entertainment simple and solves a pain point for consumers (complicated TV and component systems).”

I don’t know about you, but doesn’t an actual television set seem a little… oh I don’t know… over the top? Let’s keep our feet firmly on solid ground and invoke Occam’s Razor; the precept that suggests, all things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually right.

What’s more likely? Apple’s deal with LG is to supply the manufacture of Apple-branded television sets for which there is no known physical evidence of any kind… OR it’s for the manufacture of laptop and desktop computer LCD displays, products for which an active imagination isn’t necessary because evidence is abundant. You decide.

What’s more likely? Tim Cook’s statement, “…something there for us in the future” is, for a traditionally über-secretive company, an uncharacteristically vocal “nudge-nudge wink-wink” from one of its top executives… OR it’s a statement designed to reassure shareholders Apple’s little hobby hasn’t so-far proven to be an enormous waste of money and, yes, will see more aggressive development and sales success in the future? Again… I leave it to you.

I know analysts are in the business of making predictions, but the latest from Munster seems, to me, to be wishful-thinking at best, or else sheer unbridled fiction and link-baiting.

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