BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- IMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad ... iTV?
Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and former CEO of Apple (AAPL - Get Report), told a biographer he "finally cracked" the difficulty of creating an integrated television set. In his new book Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson says Jobs, who died on Oct. 5 from complications related to pancreatic cancer, wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers and phones.
" 'I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,' " Isaacson says Jobs told him. " '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.' "That revelation supports rumors that have circulated for years about Apple further penetrating the living room. In particular, it vindicates Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who was calling for an Apple integrated television more than a year and a half ago. "We believe Apple could combine an all-in-one home-entertainment system built around the Apple TV software," Munster wrote in a March 23, 2010, research note. "We believe the addressable market is a meaningful one, and one that represents a strategic opportunity for Apple." As is typical of Apple, the company long denied the viability of an Apple television set. While he played around with the Apple TV set-top box as a "hobby," Jobs was vocal about his view of the future of television. At the All Things Digital conference last year, Jobs candidly said that "television is very balkanized" and that "subsidized set-top boxes have squashed innovation because no one wants to pay for separate boxes." Munster, in March 2010, acknowledged that "TV hardware is a challenging, low-margin business if you don't change the rules of the game. But we see potential for Apple to offer best-in-class hardware, software and content and charge a premium." An Apple-made, high-definition TV set doesn't require a lot of imagination. Apple already offers a 27-inch LED Cinema HD monitor for $999. An Apple HDTV could be competitively priced at $1,800 for a model, Munster speculates. He also noted last year that Apple could offer an iTunes subscription service for television shows, charging anywhere from $50 to $90 per month. Munster took a victory lap on Monday by pointing out the passage on an Apple TV in the Jobs biography. Additionally, Munster says meetings with contacts close to Asian component suppliers, industry insiders, Apple's patent portfolio for television technology, and recent product launches like iCloud and Siri point to an Apple TV launch next year. "If Apple was going to launch a TV in late 2012, we believe it would add about 3% to our 2013 revenue and only be slightly dilutive to
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