An Apple store in New York. (Photo/Xinhua)
Insider sources have told China Business News that a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen has received orders for an Apple "smart TV" and is producing them on a trial basis.
Gene Munster, an analyst at investment bank Piper Jaffray, predicted recently that Apple will launch its smart television in December and that sets will hit the market early next year. They will be sold at sizes ranging from 42" to 55" and will cost US$1,500-US$2,000, said Munster.
These "smart TVs" — which allow integration with the internet and cloud computing services — will have their own displays and interfaces, unlike the Apple TV, a product that is more like a small computer dedicated to media playback.
"TVs are a mature market with low margins. Securing higher margins in a mature market will be Apple's biggest challenge," said Xie Qinyi, vice president of Greater China for DisplaySearch, a market consultancy firm.
"We believe that Apple smart TVs can occupy 10% of the global TV market in one to three years," said Muster. He believes Apple TVs may be able to be controlled by iPhones and iPads and have support for Siri audio control technology.
Xie of DisplaySearch said that Apple enjoys four major advantages in developing its TV products: a large number of customers dedicated to its brand, abundant funding, a rich content platform and a profound understanding of display panel technology.
Lao Cha, an industry observer, said that the advent of the mobile internet has paved the way for digital convergence, prompting Apple, Samsung and other international brands to branch out into smart TVs. "Smart TVs play a critical role in digital convergence. Cloud computing and equipment linkage will be key to the success of equipment suppliers," said Lao.
Industry veteran Yang Dongwen notes that the development of smart TVs will hinge on broadband speed and the convenience of internet access.