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(Image courtesy of AppleInsider and Piper Jaffray)
At least one analyst believes that the next Apple TV update is just paving the way for a bigger strategy from Apple that would lead to the release of an Internet-connected HDTV from Cupertino -- despite the fact that at least one executive has already dismissed the company having interest in that market.
AppleInsider is reporting that Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has chimed in Monday with a new note to investors, this time taking aim at Apple’s living room strategy. While many are anticipating the next Apple TV update will include limited storage, a much lower price and its own App Store, Munster is going further by forecasting that in the next two to four years, Apple will release their own Internet-connected HDTV.
Although Apple has continually referred to the Apple TV as a “hobby,” the company has continued to invest in its living room strategy, despite the challenge of breaking into a market where consumers are used to receiving a cable box for free (or cheap). Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself may have given a clue as to what the future might hold.
"The only way that's ever going to change," Jobs said, "is if you can really go back to square one, tear up the set top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different functions, and get it to consumers in a way that they're willing to pay for it. And right now there's no way to do that."
Given Cupertino’s current cloud-based strategy -- complete with a new, soon-to-be-launched data center in North Carolina -- analyst Munster believes that a cloud-based iTunes is all but a certainty, and that Apple’s dominance of the mobile market will ultimately given them incentive to dominate the living room as well.
An Apple Internet-connected HDTV would only be one part of the strategy, with the other being an “iTunes TV pass” for $50 to $90 per month in addition to a TV-based App Store which would offer games and services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus for the TV, much in the same way the company now does for portable devices.
"Apple's ability to deliver hardware, software and content that could replace an entire entertainment system with a single TV, puts Apple in a unique position for the emerging connected TV cycle," Munster concludes. "Apple already has several of the key ingredients for success in the connected TV market, many of which would differentiate Apple from current market players."
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter