Apple Television Is Coming! Brave Analyst Revives Most Unreliable Rumor in History

Tech giant might debut Ultra HD TV sets in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to report

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Apple might start selling 55- and 65-inch Ultra HD TV sets in the fourth quarter of 2014  — or, you know, it might not.

When or whether the U.S.’s biggest technology company might roll out its own TV has been the subject of feverish speculation for years. Here’s the latest rumor: Apple is mulling specifications for an Ultra HD TV, likely with a bezel-less design, that will “probably” ship in Q4 next year, according to a Japanese equity research analyst cited in a Bloomberg report.

It may just be the latest boy crying wolf. Analysts have issued many inaccurate predictions about the mythical Apple television. Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, who loves the idea of an Apple big-screen TV, suggested last year that new Apple sets would debut in the second half of 2013, priced at $1,500 to $2,000 with 42- to 55-inch screen sizes, citing sources at industry suppliers. Well… nope.

Company execs have fueled the speculation by saying that Apple remains very interested in the TV segment, beyond the $99 Apple TV hockey-puck-shaped set-top that it sells today.

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“There is a very grand vision” for television, Apple topper Tim Cook said at an industry conference in May, declining to elaborate. And the late Steve Jobs famously told biographer Walter Isaccson the company had “cracked the code” on creating a simple and elegant TV.

Wall Street is eager for Apple to dive into its next big growth segment, as the company’s smartphones and tablets face more competition and growth begins slackening. An integrated HDTV would give Apple greater control of the living-room video experience, funneling in content from iTunes or iOS devices.

But it’s not clear Apple, even with its incredible brand cachet, would make a huge dent in the HDTV market — an extremely price-competitive sector. Also worth noting is that consumers don’t buy a new TV every year or two, the way they’ve upgraded iPhones. On average, people are in the market for a new television every seven years.

For now, Apple has been content to rake in billions on its core iPhone, iPad and Mac product lines. On Tuesday, the tech giant bowed two new iPad models, including the thinner and more powerful iPad Air, after launching the iPhone 5s and 5c earlier this fall.

The analyst cited in the Bloomberg report, Advanced Research Japan’s Masahiko Ishino, would not say how he came by the info. But Ishino also speculated that Apple’s suppliers for the TV sets could potentially include LG Display Co., Samsung Electronics and Corning, and that longtime Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group “probably” will be tapped to assemble the TVs. He added that the TVs “may be” priced at about $1,500 to $2,500.

That’s a lot of possiblies, maybes and mights. Apple watchers will need more than mere guesses before they believe Cupertino has an actual HDTV game plan.