Apple testing TV sets with a view to content sales
Report claims Apple plans fully-fledged living room viewing hardware
Apple is exploring building TVs in a move that would expand its interest in the living room and bring new customers into the iTunes fold.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is working with equipment manufacturers in Asia on a TV design that could see the company sell hardware as well as more content.
The company already has a TV set-top box on the market, with 2.7 million units sold this year, according to Apple's Tim Cook.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple is working with Hon Hai, owner of Foxconn, which also manufactures the company's iPhones and iPads, and has been testing the televisions with the company.
The potential for consumer lock-in that the television creates will likely drive platform companies to continue exploring the space
Initial tests are normally carried out in-house, so the project could be moving towards production, although sources told the WSJ that "it isn't a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing".
Apple has previously stated that the television market was something that it wanted to make "more than a hobby", but it has so far seen little traction with its set-top boxes.
The news of the plans comes as Hon Hai is looking to exploit its recent investment in part of a $10bn former Sharp factory that specialises in large LCD panels that might fit Apple's ambitions.
Although ambitious hardware is key, the company will be equally interested in getting less technical TV viewers into its walled garden, with the potential for lucrative earnings from film and programme sales and rentals.
"The potential for consumer lock-in that the television creates will likely drive platform companies to continue exploring the space," said Goldman Sachs in a report cited by the Journal.
"As such, while the battle is just getting started on this front, we see it as having the potential to either further entrench current winners such as Apple, or completely disrupt the market once again."