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TheStreet Open House

Apple TV: What It's Worth to Apple

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Rumors about an Apple (AAPL) television are nothing new. With 2013 fully in gear, talk about the TV is heating up again, and it could be big business for Apple.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has talked about television being an "area of intense interest" for Apple on a number of occasions in the past, and has hinted that Apple will do more in this space. Apple may be looking to beef up its plans with a reported bid for German HDTV maker Lowe, something that's been rumored about in the past.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference yesterday, Cook talked about Apple's acquisition strategy, noting that the company has averaged an acquisition every other month over the past three years. "And the kind of companies that we've purchased have been companies where they have really smart people and/or IP. And generally speaking we've in many cases taken something that they're working on and moved the scales to work on something else," Cook said, during the talk.

An acquisition of Loewe would fit right in with Cook's description of Apple's recent acquisitions, and it could wind up being big business for Apple.

Apple could not be immediately reached for comment on the rumor.

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty notes that an Apple television could be worth $17 billion in U.S.-based revenue to Apple, or $68 billion across the globe. "This assumes 10% penetration of active iTunes accounts and $1,300 ASP," Huberty wrote.

That would be a welcome sight to shareholders, who have pushed the company's share price down 25% over the past few months on worries about slowing revenue growth and a lack of innovation in Cupertino.

AAPL Chart AAPL data by YCharts

There's already been intense speculation about what an Apple television will contain, with iOS and Siri likely being two of the biggest selling points. Cook mentioned on Tuesday that Apple is not a hardware company, emphasizing its strengths in software and services. Apple's iOS and Siri are two of the biggest pieces to this puzzle.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek wrote that he expects a television launch in September or October. "We have 2M units included in our CQ3 Apple estimate, which may need to be pushed back a quarter if the launch is in Oct. We expect a price point of $1,500+ for a 42" to 55" model and also expect a below corporate average GM," Misek wrote.

What Exactly Will Be in the Apple TV?

One of the major sticking points of the Apple television is content. Misek believes that Apple will leverage the content with existing pay-TV operators. Apple's cash hoard has been called into question recently, with Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn talking about a preferred stock proposal that would unlock the value of Apple's cash.

Perhaps the reason Apple is keeping so much cash on the books is to do a deal for a content company like a CBS (CBS) or a Netflix (NFLX), as Cook noted Apple has looked at larger acquisitions in the past, but they did not pass Apple's test for various reasons. If Apple were to lock down significant amounts of content and leverage its existing platforms (iTunes, Siri, and iOS) to keep users, this would further add credence to the ecosystem halo that is so often mentioned with Apple.

We're pretty sure that an Apple television exists already, with Rogers Communications (RCI) and BCE (BCE) reportedly having the device in their hands.

An Apple television, along with the rumored iWatch, shows that innovation is alive and well at Apple. That could provide big business for Apple.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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