Apple is working with Asian manufacturers on a device that may change how we all watch television, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. But it’s still not clear whether that device will be a TV set itself or simply a robust version of the Apple TV set-top box that Apple already has on the market.
According to the report, which cites officials in Apple’s supply chain who “declined to be named,” the television project is still informal and in the “early stages” of testing. Apple has reportedly tapped its main assembler, Hon Hai Industries, to work with Sharp on designing television sets. But the company is still said to be speaking with cable companies about making a set-top box that carries live television, the report said.
The report fanned the coals of a long-standing rumor: that Apple plans to seriously disrupt the way television works. Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs dropped heavy hints about such a project when he told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had “finally cracked” the best way to make a television set that integrates with other devices and the iCloud service.
“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said in the interview.
But despite persistent rumors from analysts and reports of testing, Apple has yet to acknowledge much more than “intense interest” in television, as chief executive Tim Cook noted in his recent interview with Rock Center’s Brian Williams. Cook did, however, express frustration with the current state of television technology saying, “When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years.”
But Apple could easily be considering beefing up its Apple TV with its Siri voice-control technology and partnerships with cable companies to bring the television set fully into the connector era — and the app economy.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal wrote about Apple’s planned “TV assault,” documenting talks between Apple executive Eddy Cue and media executives on how the technology company could change the space with voice and motion controls.