Apple TV in 2012?

Here's one of several pictures of the current Apple TV interface. For more, visit http://www.apple.com/appletv/

Apple has been experimenting with home television since 2006, when the company introduced Apple TV. Released last year, second generation Apple TV has sold over 2 million units. Apple TV is an accessory. The new product will be a complete solution: a TV set with an Apple logo, Apple software, and Apple’s reinvention of yet another product category.

For those unfamiliar with Apple TV, here’s the Apple blurb:

“With Apple TV, everything you want to watch — movies, TV shows, photo slideshows, and more — plays wirelessly on your widescreen TV. No managing storage. No syncing to your iTunes library. HD movies and TV shows from iTunes and Netflix play over the Internet on your HDTV, and music and photos stream from your computer. All you have to do is click and watch.”

According to Smarthouse, there will be three Apple models: 32″, a mid-size, and 55″. It will include “A totally new software interface has been written that allows users to call up programs using voice commands via the new Siri personal assistant app…” It may be operated by your existing iPad or iPhone (provided it’s Siri-ous).

Add Apple’s FaceTime and the TV becomes a big-screen video conferencing center, fully compatible with millions of iPhones and iPads.

How might the new TV look? The first place that answers come together tends to be MacRumors, my favorite Mac site for its up-to-the-minute coverage, its willingness to republish rumors from reliable sources (often with smart commentary), and the site’s Buyer’s Guide, which tells consumers when to buy each Mac and Apple portable device.

How much will it cost? I’m guessing $1,199 for the low-priced model, and $1,99 for the high, with a $1,499 price point for the in-between model. Just a guess based upon Apple’s past practices. If I was in charge of television at Sony, or any other high-priced television manufacturer, I would be very, very concerned. And I would not bother to convince myself that, somehow, DroidTV (or whatever) is likely to win the race.

Why?

1. With the iPad turning three years old, Apple’s huge base of early adopters will be ready for a new, high-priced toy.

2. For a decade, Apple has been studying this market, figuring out the best integrated hardware, network, usability, operating system and app plays.

3. Apple already sells an accessory product with the base functionality already in place and operating in two million homes (three or four million by launch time).

4. Apple has a well-developed retail network–people like to see a TV before buying. Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Target sell Apple products.

No competitor enjoys these advantages.

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