Apple Secretly Prototyping Big-Screen TV Designs

Mere days after CEO Tim Cook said that television is an “area of immense interest,” a new report suggests that Apple and its manufacturing partners are actively testing prototypes for large screen HDTVs.

Foxconn and Sharp are collaborating on the design experiments, the Wall Street Journal reports. Several television prototypes have allegedly been tried out over the span of several years.

Apple’s leadership has been eyeing the living room for a long time. Besides its AirPlay and Apple TV set-top box endeavors, Steve Jobs famously espoused his vision of an Apple-made TV to biographer Walter Isaacson:

“‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’”

In November, it was reported that Apple was planning to debut a television set in early 2013. Back in August, Apple was allegedly in talks with cable providers to create a set-top box that blurred the line between live TV and locally stored video, though we haven’t heard any other rumors about the project since.

Before you get your hopes up too high, however, note that the WSJ’s own sources caution that this is early stage testing, not a formal project, and Apple’s alleged television ambitions could be dropped by the wayside. The paper also notes that Apple “works with suppliers to test new designs all the time.”

Finally, while Jobs’ vision of a seamless, all-encompassing TV may be grand, it might not necessarily be realistic; the television industry is still reeling from the explosion of on-demand streaming and the cable companies remember all too well what iTunes did to prices in the music industry.

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