If you can believe China Daily (and hey, who doesn't?), the much rumored Apple television called iTV is gonna happen. Soon. Maybe not this year. Most likely next.
Oh, and there's also another report floating around, not quite as credible, that a smaller iPad is on the way this fall, to ward off growing competition.
Watch This Set: China Daily got the word about the iTV directly from Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn, the Apple product builder that's gotten lots of unfavorable publicity for workers conditions. While still in the development stage, he said the set would feature an iMac-like aluminum body, Siri voice control (good luck with that), a camera for FaceTime chatting with other Apple product users and a high resolution panel from Sharp.
Therein may lie the biggest difference between an Apple iTV and all the other internet-connected televisions now being produced by the likes of Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Sony, et all. Foxconn recently bought a chunk of the Japanese electronics giant Sharp, one of the true pioneers of LCD panel development and a company still at the front of the developmental pack.
At this past January's CES, Sharp showed off big screen "Ultra High Definition" panels with four times the resolution of today's HD television. Booth demonstrators suggested Sharp could and would produce said 4K sets "before year's end." But to what end, if there's no native 4K content available (though Sony is now selling a Blu-ray player that upconverts HD to Ultra HD)? The answer is - Apple pushes out its own Ultra HD apps and streams from the iTunes Store, only to be enjoyed to the fullest on their own, sure to be premium-priced sets.
Why else should Apple get into the cut-throat TV market now, unless they can provide true "differentiator" features?
Tablet Wars: The usually reliable Apple blog iMore is reporting that a 7-inch iPad with the same screen resolution as the current iPad will hit stores in the third quarter of the year priced in the $200-$250 range. We've been hearing this story for months - the Wall Street Journal had it in February, before the launch of the "new" (third gen) iPad. Apple blogger John Gruber has tipped that Apple was testing an iPad with a 7.85-inch screen.
Steve Jobs may be turning in his grave - having scoffed at the usability of any tablet with a screen smaller than the iPad's 9.7-inch display. And recent studies have found that users who own both bigger and smaller tablets do gravitate to the larger and consume much less on the smaller.
But Apple has to be smarting over the success of Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire - the most popular of Android based tablets, in part because of its $199 price point. Microsoft's recent investment in the similarly sized Barnes & Noble Nook also guarantees that tab is going to hang in there as a competitor. And Microsoft's also doing its damnest to get the price down for the next generation of Windows 8 based tablets and Ultrabooks.
(Arguing that the world's moving to the "streaming" of media content, the basic Windows 8 O.S. won't support DVD playback, eliminating some serious royalty payments.)
So faced with a drop in market share, how can Apple not respond? It recently dropped the price of "refurbished"iPads to as low as $315. A $250 7-inch model could be next, though I ain't trading down for it. A lower priced Macbook (another rumor)? That could perk me up.