The long standing whisper in the consumer electronics space has been that Apple is working to find a way to innovate in the television industry as radically as it had impacted the music, telecommunications and tablet fields.
Now, with the launch of Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, those whispers are becoming a roar.
Isaacson quotes Jobs as saying he struggled with the idea of an integrated television set that was as easy to use as other Apple products – but towards the end of his life, he found a solution he liked
From the book:
"'I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,' he told me. 'It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.' No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. 'It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.'"
The revelation – just one paragraph amidst over 600 pages – has got analysts in a tizzy. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, who has been pushing Apple to make TV more than a "hobby" for years, says he believes an Apple TV could debut by late 2012 or early 2013. Prototypes, he says, are already in the works.
User interface has been a growing concern for television manufacturers – and many feel the set is due for a makeover, given the ever-increasing amount of content that's being offered to consumers.
"Manufacturers often like to build closed systems -- and that makes it difficult to integrate them with each other," says Craig Engler, senior vice president and g.m. of Syfy Digital. "It could be that Apple does for the television industry what it did for tablets: create a new standard that everyone follows."
The speculation could be misplaced, though. Isaacson, in a conversation with CNET, further addressed the Apple-manufactured TV comment, saying "They weren't close at all. He told me it was very theoretical. These were theoretical things they were thinking about in the future."