by Anton Shilov
03/27/2013 | 11:32 PM
In addition to innovative user interface and requirement for always-on Internet connectivity, Apple’s TV-set will also feature ultra high-definition resolution, a new market rumour suggests. As a result, the consumer electronics giant will heavily depend on supply of appropriate display panels. Moreover, the cost of such TVs will likely be prohibitively high, at least initially.
Apple has been one of the biggest supporter of high resolution displays in the recent years: the first mass retina-class display emerged on iPhone, then iPad obtained screens with 2048*1536 resolution, then it released laptops with displays featuring 2560*1600 and 2880*1800 screen resolution. With such a background, launching a TV-set with full-HD (1920*1080) display seems rather strange for the company. A much more logical move would be using a 4K panel with 3840*2160 resolution.
As it appears, Apple and its main manufacturing partner Foxconn Electronics have been working for some time to secure stable and sufficient supply of 4K panels for Apple iTV, reports DigiTimes web-site. The problem is that total output of 4K display panels this year is projected to be around 2.6 million for all sizes, according to NPD DisplaySearch. Some market analysts estimated in the past that Apple is going to need tens of millions of panels from 46” to 55” in diagonal for its future TV-set. As a result, the release schedule of Apple TV depends on supply of UHDTV panels, in addition to all other things.
“To date, Innolux Corp. has been the most aggressive panel manufacturer in this market segment, developing a full line-up of 4K panels in the 39" to 85" range. Despite this, 4K panel manufacturers’ shipments are primarily focused on 50", 55"/58”, and 65" sizes, which are expected to have the highest volume shipments, especially in China,” noted David Hsieh, NPD DisplaySearch vice president of greater China market.
While it clearly makes sense for Apple to release a TV-set with 3840*2160 screen resolution, it should be noted that the content in such high quality is rather scarce at the moment and the demand towards such a TV-set may be limited. Moreover, should Apple release a 4K UHDTV-set, it will need a delivery service of 4K content to its customers, which will put additional load onto Apple iTunes.
Apple did not comment on the 4K feature of its forthcoming iTV.
After Steve Jobs himself announced plans for an Apple TV-set family, it makes no sense to deny that the company is working on one. However, in its usual manner, Apple never discusses any kind of details about its products before they are launched commercially. One of the things that have been confirmed is that Foxconn Electronics, Apple’s main contract manufacturer, had started to make preparations to produce iTV products. In fact, Foxconn is in talks to acquire Sharp's TV assembly lines in several countries.
Nobody knows what exactly is Apple TV-set and how competitive it will be in the light of emerging smart TVs with stereo-3D and 4K resolution support and other technologies like cloud video game streaming. Like a lot of Apple's products, it may become a major success for the company and will transform the whole market of TV-sets.
One of the main features of Apple's television set is projected to be an ability to quickly search for content from numerous sources, including Apple's own iTunes. Given the fact that the user experience should be integrated, this feature alone presents a number of challenges. In order to provide unique capabilities and simplicity, Apple TV will likely integrate iCloud, Siri along with motion sensing support for content sharing and control purposes. In a bid to be able to control the TV using iPhone, iPad or iPod, the TV will be compatible with Apple's AirPlay technology.