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Apple's smart TV project - what we (think we) know so far

Ben Camm-Jones | Nov. 28, 2011
It's widely accepted in the technology industry that Apple is working on a smart, internet-connected TV device. But what do we really know about the 'iTV' so far?

So who is Robbin? Well, Jobs apparently considered Robbin - who had been brought in to the company when Apple bought SoundJam, creators of the digital music player of the same name - so valuable that he wouldn't let him meet a Time magazine reporter without the reporter agreeing not to print Robbin's last name, in case he was poached by a rival. Robbin was also said to be a key influence in persuading Jobs that iTunes should be compatible with Windows operating systems.

Sharp working with Apple towards mid-2012 launch?

Misek's report also names Sharp as Apple's partner in the project. Apple will take over one of the production lines at Sharp's Gen 10 Sakai facility for the iTV, he believes, with production beginning in February 2012.

"For iTV we believe that Apple will take a line at the Gen 10 Sakai facility and produce a modified version of the Amorphous TFT. We believe retooling of the line has begun or is about to begin at the facility with February as a preliminary time frame for commercial production. This would put an iTV launch as early as the middle of 2012, which aligns with our other iTV checks." Misek said.

As part of the same deal, Apple will take over the whole of Sharp's Gen 6 Sakai facility for production of displays based on IGZO technology for its next-generation iPads and iPhones, Misek said. This is a hefty investment for Apple, which is pumping in somewhere in the region of $1bn - more than Sharp's entire annual operating income.

However, previous estimates have put the launch a little later than mid-2012, with the New York Times reckoning 2013 was more likely. Stewart Alsop thinks that Apple is looking towards getting the Apple television out in time for Christmas 2012. As NYT's Nick Bilton says: "It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when."

At the moment, though, we still have more questions than answers.


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