There's even more initial interest in a potential Apple-made television than there was for the iPhone and iPad.
That's according to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, who wrote in a note issued today that consumers would be willing to pay a 20 percent premium and that there was twice as much initial interest in purchasing as there was for Apple's mobile devices.
Speculation about the Apple iTV remains one of the hottest topics as analysts, investors, and company observers look to the next big growth driver for the company. CEO Tim Cook dropped a tantalizing hint during a recent interview, calling it "an area of intense interest."
It's an area of interest for Apple fans too, according to Huberty.
Apple, meanwhile, has remained mum on the subject, and even Cook said he wouldn't go further after dropping his hint.
Instead of focusing on content, which many believe has been a key hurdle for the introduction of an iTV, Apple could work on improving the operating system, improving the search, ease of use, interaction, and control of the television set, Huberty said.
The television business could use a little innovation. Huberty's survey found that 13 percent of the respondents didn't even know they owned a smart TV, and those that do actually connect their television to the Internet less than those without a smart TV.
"What's more, many consumers are willing to pay a meaningful premium for an Apple-branded Smart TV, a sign that consumers are not happy with current offerings," she said.
For Apple, the television business could mean an opportunity to ship 13 million units in the U.S., with consumers willing to pay $1,060 on average, representing a $13 billion revenue opportunity and $4.50 in earnings per share. Those figures could quadruple if Apple is successful overseas, Huberty said.
They survey found 47 percent are interested in purchasing an iTV, more than the 23 percent and 21 percent respectiv einterest for the iPhone and iPad. Part of the increase in the interest is due to the "halo effect" of having already owned an Apple product, Huberty said.