According to Digitimes, which has a pretty spotty record when it comes to Apple-related rumors, unnamed supply chain sources have let slip that Apple is investigating the feasibility of a 4K, or Ultra HD television for release sometime in late 2013 or early 2014. Most of the Apple leaks in recent years have come from similar supply chain informants, a sign that such growth as Apple has experienced in recent years inevitably reduces a company’s ability to keep a lid on all of its secret projects.
Reportedly, Apple has been in deep deliberation with Foxconn, its primary choice for fabrication of its personal technology products. The largest problem in creating such a device is sourcing the requisite components; as yet, the technology for creating 4K television panels is still sufficiently new that not many fabrication plants are capable of churning them out in large numbers.
A major second consideration behind supply constraints is the cost of these components; the first 4K products on the market range in the five figures, with devices from LG, Samsung, and Sony hitting well upwards of $20,000. Back at CES, several manufacturers promised to cut prices for 4K technology to under $5,000 by the end of this year, with Westinghouse suggesting that they may introduce a $2,500, 50-inch 4K model this summer.
Unlike a theoretical Apple HDTV, however, a budget model from Westinghouse would lack basically any functionality whatsoever aside from the 4K panel itself.
Given that an Apple television still doesn’t exist, it’s difficult to suggest what sort of technology it might feature. The most suggestion is an always-on Siri digital assistant that would help users with more complex tasks, such as recording every new episode of a given television show. One possible outcome is a tight integration with its current Apple TV smart box; by upgrading the Apple TV yearly or every other year, Apple could milk a few more dollars out of a market that typically sees very slow turnover.