Don’t freak out, but Apple(s AAPL) is testing out television prototypes. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Apple is working with several of its manufacturing partners in Asia, testing different models of a high-resolution television sets. Two of the suppliers in question are said to be Foxconn and Sharp — which Foxconn partly owns.
But before you get out your wallet, remember that these are just prototypes. We’ve heard these rumors before, and we’ll likely continue to hear them as Apple figures out how to move its strategy for the living room beyond a “hobby.” The Journal‘s story is careful to point out just how early these tests are, with a source quoted saying, “It isn’t a formal project yet” and that “Apple could opt not to proceed with the device.” In other words, according to this story Apple doesn’t have a concrete plan just yet, and they are still figuring things out.
It is not exactly breaking news that Apple is exploring what to do in the area of television. In fact, just last week CEO Tim Cook told NBC(s cmsca) that television is “an area of intense interest” for Apple. The company has been working on this for years. Steve Jobs famously told his biographer before his death in 2011 that he had “cracked” TV, which led to more rumors that an Apple twist on a television would arrive as early as “late 2012.”
What content would be on this television that would distinguish it from Apple’s currently available $99 set-top box is an arguably bigger and more important question. Apple’s devices are about what content you can get on them. And as recent stories leaked to the press have shown, Apple and the major content providers have yet to reach an agreement.