Fear of Apple iTV has manufacturers "scrambling," analyst says
TV makers, tune in. The industry your boxes have dominated for decades may be about to get shaken, stirred, and twisted around by Apple Inc., the market disruptor extraordinaire.
Apple is already building production facilities for an "iTV," according to Peter Misek, an Apple analyst at Jefferies who has been issuing bold projections lately about Apple's secret television plans.
Observers expect that an Apple television would combine Apple's knack for making easy-to-use, visually appealing software with its electronics engineering muscle, resulting in a new kind of device that would push forward the TV industry the way Apple has done with music, phones and tablets.
Misek says he has indications that Apple may be working on the TVs with Osaka-based electronics manufacturer Sharp Corp., even now setting up factory space at a site in Japan to mass produce customized Apple televisions.
"We believe retooling of the [production] line has begun or is about to begin at the facility with February as a preliminary time frame for commercial production," Misek writes. "This would put an iTV launch as early as the middle of 2012."
He believes that the prospect of an Apple television set is now sending leading TV manufacturers on "a scrambling search to identify what iTV will be and do" so that they don't get "caught flat footed by Apple."
"Having said that, it appears that mainstream TV manufacturers are likely to be at least 6 to 12 months behind in best-case scenario. Many of them lack the software and cloud capabilities as well as the innovative cultural elements to effectively compete."
Could any company other than Apple could be leaving its competitors in the dust in an industry it hasn't even entered yet?
-- David Sarno
Photo: Workers set up a display of televisions at the Panasonic booth in preparation for the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where a big topic was Internet-connected TVs. None of those devices took off. Credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters