|Fresh rumors this week about how the Apple TV update could be announced this December, with a release date sometime in 2013. The Apple TV rumors could bring new apps for iCloud and the iTunes App Store, as well as the connected TV experience set to pit Apple TV vs Roku and Apple TV vs Google TV. iTv, iHub or Apple TV set, the race is on again, and news / rumors about Foxconn production have just been backed up by some credible journalistic outfits.
Are you ready for the coolest / juiciest news / rumor of all? The Apple TV set is currently beginning production at the Foxconn factory in China. The tale arrives via China Business News, who's made it their business to tell us that "Yesterday, informed sources told Business Daily (microblogging) , Fuji Kang Longhua factory in Shenzhen IDPBG Business Group has received orders for the Apple TV is currently in trial production stage, but the person did not disclose more details." That of course is through the wonders that are Google Translate.
This is backed by a report from earlier in the month from China Daily, who said "Gou said Foxconn is making preparations for iTV, Apple Inc's rumored upcoming high-definition television, although development or manufacturing has yet to begin. iTV reportedly features an aluminum construction, Siri, and FaceTime video calling. Foxconn's recent 50-50 joint venture factory with Sharp in Japan is one of the preparations made for the new device, Gou added." To be fair, this is supposed to be a trial production stage, so before we all go freaking out, we should realize that this might just might be an initial run to test the viability of Apple TV production and make some advance copies. Nobody should be making plans to buy an Apple TV set (yet).
All in all, the speculation right now from analyst Gene Munster says that the Apple TV price could be around $1500 - $2000, range in size from 42 - 55 inches, and get this -- could capture up to 10% of the market in the first couple of years. Surely Apple has humongous shoes to fill on a new product launch, since their the product launch standard-bearers with the iPhone and iPad launches. For all of the Apple TV rumors that have happened over the past year and talk around the possibility of the Apple TV update, it's what we know from past Apple products: a product ecosystem that involves new hardware (the TV set), a new app store addition (Apple TV apps through iCloud and the like), media content to sell through iTunes with TV shows, movies and music. Sounds like Apple to me.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at CNET thinks that this could also include great new Apple TV features like Kinect-style-gesture control and Siri to control the TV, as well as the iPad or iPhone. "This non-TV TV, which he called the iHub, would feature a 32-inch screen with touch, gesture, voice, FaceTime and iPad control and could be hung on the wall wherever the family congregates for planning, talking, or eating. McQuivey believes that the key to success is not content, but apps." He's quoting Forrester analyst James McQuivey, who thinks that Apple should press on with the iHub idea as a way to define and shape the user experience in a way that Apple does well, and give it to us on a new screen. When and if that takes off, Apple will have more leverage in negotiating for the rights to TV shows and movies. At that point it's complete war as Apple TV vs Roku and Apple TV vs Google TV becomes a race to define both the user experience, sell hardware and acquire the rights to movies and TV shows.
We could also consider that what Apple might be moving towards here isn't just a strictly defined Apple TV set, but also an Apple TV update to its existing set-top box. This would be more of a software approach, bringing what Apple does best, the user experience. The whole TV and media world is talking about the connected TV right now; as a combination of online TV as a new way to experience what we know as TV, movies and music. Combine social media experiences like Twitter and Facebook so you can have a shared experience with your friends, or everyone else who's watching that TV show or movie; the time shifting capability that we get via DVRs, Hulu or Netflix; and a massive archive of everything that's ever been released (or that Apple could get the rights to). That's the connected TV experience and could be part of the Apple TV box in an inexpensive way to buy in, and an Apple TV set as a premium product.
What do you think: Will the Apple TV set go into full-scale production? Will you buy one, or a more moderately priced Apple TV set-top box for a few hundred dollars, or are you more of a Google TV, Netlix, Hulu or Roku person?