Apple to introduce HDTV sets by summer

As has been rumored for months, Apple is expected to bring new high-definition television sets into the marketplace by this summer, putting the computer maker in the hot seat to reinvent a device whose sales are soft for traditional models.

Citing sources within the Asian supply chain, “DigiTimes” has reported that Apple is preparing an HDTV for a summer launch that will be initially available in 32-inch and 37-inch models. Suppliers, the report said, will begin the early stages of production in the first three months of this year.

“DigiTimes” confirmed that the device would be a full-fledged HDTV, in addition to a new model Apple TV set-top box. It is also expected that Apple’s new television will operate off the company’s iCloud computers and include its Siri voice technology now in the iPhone 4s.

“I do expect Apple to make an attempt,” said Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in an interview with “USA TODAY,” “since I expect the living room to remain a center for family entertainment, and that touches on all areas of consumer products that Apple is already making.”

Various media reports, including those out of Korea, have stated that Samsung Electronics is producing chips for the Apple branded HDTV, while Sharp will supply the displays. This information supports a story from The Tokyo Times published in November that said Apple signed with Sharp to begin production of large displays in January.

Owners of an Apple TV could buy TV shows, movies, music or games through iTunes and then play their purchases across all Apple’s products—including a large screen display in their living room. Yet, it is undetermined if Apple has been able to secure top-level network programming for such an Internet-connected TV set.

The world market for Internet-linked TVs is growing fast and expected to nearly double from $68 billion in 2011 to $122 billion in 2016, according to IMS Research. Apple’s entry could have a huge impact TV set manufacturers already in the market.

“Those TV companies could face a dilemma not unlike what Apple’s iPhone did to mobile phone makers RIM, Motorola and Nokia,” IMS Research analyst Veronica Thayer told “USA TODAY.”

While television networks seem pleased with the steady income they are currently receiving from cable television, customers are tiring of the high monthly fees. Internet-connected TVs threaten to disrupt cable and networks could sign deals with new players.

Cable operators will “lose control in the next five years as more and more content moves online and onto streaming,” Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin told the newspaper.