SAN JOSE, Calif. – The consumer electronics industry has seen plenty of Web-connected TVs and will see plenty more at CES 2012 and beyond. The burning question these days is whether Apple can crystallize the concept into a must-have product as it has done with MP3 players, smartphones and tablets.
This morning, Taiwan's Digitimes became the latest to weigh in on rumors Apple Inc. will deliver a connected TV. It reported the so-called iTV could ship by August using 32- and 37-inch screens from Sharp and chips made by Samsung.
The rumors kicked into high gear following the release this year of the official biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. It quoted Jobs as saying he "had finally cracked the code" on an integrated TV product.
Since then others have turned down the volume on the hype, suggesting Apple is still in an early phase of developing such a product. Others have noted TVs do not play to Apple strengths because systems are rarely upgraded and carry new and heavy supply chain challenges for the computer and device maker.
On the other hand, Apple's software designers have a knack for making complex things simple. The company also has the Hollywood connections to plow through some of the resistance from studios and broadcasters.
We shared our concept of a hot iTV back in 2008. Since then Yahoo! entered the market, enabling 3.5 million connected TVs in 2009. Google followed with its own PR splash and products that flopped and is now working on a next-generation platform. The gyrations have been enough to jerk Intel in and out of this emerging market.
Even two years ago, nearly every TV maker had at least one Web TV model in its line up at CES. Earlier this year, one consumer veteran helped launch an open Web TV standards effort. Analysts have put out big projections for sales of as many as 650 million of such systems by 2014.
We'd love to hear from TV makers and anyone who has tried a connected TV. What are the sore spots of these products to date? How could Apple create a better product?