The longstanding rumor that Apple intends to jump into the business of selling televisions could be coming closer to reality thanks to iCloud, a new analyst report suggests.
Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, who has long been trumpeting the possibility--or as he calls it, the firm's "thesis"--of an Apple-made TV set, says Apple's recently-announced iCloud infrastructure makes it all the more plausible.
"Apple's iCloud service for media storage makes it simpler to own multiple Apple devices and share content among them," Munster wrote in a note to investors this morning. "At first the only media iCloud will store is music and pictures, but we believe Apple may add movies and TV shows purchased or rented in iTunes to the iCloud service, which could be viewed on a TV."
To add to that, Munster says the appearance of three different Apple patent applications related to TV technologies are evidence that the company is at least considering a deeper move into the space.
As far as making a business out of it, Munster suggests that Apple intends to open up the platform to third-parties to develop on, as it's done with iOS. Several third-party apps like NBA, MLB, and Netflix are already available on Apple's existing Apple TV set top box, but Munster believes Apple will open that up to anyone.
"In other words, Apple's strong iOS developer community would likely jump at the chance to build apps for an Apple Television, and Apple's iOS users would likely jump at the chance to buy one," Munster wrote.
Munster believes Apple will bring an $1,800 TV set to market near the end of next year, with it replacing the Apple TV set-top box, which Apple currently sells for $99. As for how much that would bring in, Munster estimated that it could add $2.5 billion in revenue in 2012, nearly doubling to $4 billion in 2013, and reaching $6 billion by 2014.
A report by Dailytech earlier this week cited an anonymous, former executive at Apple suggesting that the company was hard at work on a TV set. That set is said to embed the existing Apple TV set-top box technologies alongside a modified version of iTunes. The report also suggested that such a device would actually be made by another manufacturer, and not Apple.
Apple rival/frenemy Google entered the TV space late last year with combination of set-top boxes and TV sets that include its Google TV software. Unlike Apple's Apple TV offering, which is primarily focused on delivering rented and purchased content from iTunes, Google's strategy is to blend in with TV content you watch through your cable operator and let users do Web searches while watching programming. Google has also approached game developers, urging them to design TV-friendly entertainment with compatible Web technologies.