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Apple (s aapl) will be launching 32- and 37-inch versions of a dedicated Apple television set in the second or third quarter of 2012, according to supply chain sources speaking to DigiTimes on Tuesday. Apple will be focusing on those two sizes initially, the sources claim.
The sources indicate Apple’s supply partners will begin preparing the components necessary for the new “iTVs,” as they’ve been dubbed by the media, in the first quarter of 2012. Parts include Samsung chips (likely the A5 that currently powers the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, or its successor) and displays from Sharp, according to previous reports and backed up by what DigiTimes says are “media reports in Korea.”
Entering the market with 32- and 37-inch form factors would be an interesting move for Apple. The smaller-size displays might help keep costs down, and reduce the sticker shock effect on consumers, but I doubt mainstream TV shoppers in the U.S. will be smitten with those relatively small screens. According to a recent BBC report, the average size of owned televisions in the U.S. was 46 inches, and will climb to 65 inches by 2015. Screen sizes between 32 and 37 inches was the average in the U.K. according to another report — but that was nearly five years ago.
Add in that Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munsters expects Apple’s TV sets to retail for around twice the price of comparably sized alternatives from other sources, and you have to start to wonder whether small sets with big price tags can truly cause a lot of disruption in the home entertainment market. But if Apple has proven anything, it’s that counting them out based on perceived appeal of a product is a fool’s game.
The DigiTimes report also suggests Apple may continue to offer a set-top box version of the Apple TV in 2012, according to separate sources. You’d think having both products on the market would only water down interest for each, but the current Apple TV has actually been a fairly successful, albeit in an unassuming way. Maybe Apple is hoping that keeping it around will serve as a cheap introduction to the prospect of a more expensive, but more feature-full dedicated iTV.