Another Apple iTV rumor emerged yesterday, claiming an “unnamed” South Korean display maker is providing Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) panel samples for mass production next year. This is according to Lee Seung-woo, an analyst from IBK Securities in Seoul.
The Korea Herald article continues “Around 2 million Apple‘s iTVs with 65- and 77-inch liquid crystal displays were expected to hit the market in the second half of this year. However, Apple employees visited this local company in October 2013 to delay the plans to next year,” said a source close to the matter on Saturday”.
Is this umpteenth iTV story real? Read our analysis after the break.
While the supplier isn’t named, there are only two companies producing large screen OLED panels. Samsung has only announced availability of a 55-inch model, the KN55S9 last year. LG is selling a number of 55-inch OLED models, including the 55EA8800 .
LG, at the January 2014 CES, showed OLED UHDTVs in curved 65 and 77-inch sizes. They announced availability later this year, the same sizes as mentioned by the “source” in the Korea Herald article.
The article goes on to claim the Apple iTV was first scheduled for production in the second half of this year, but it is now planned for 2015. This is due to the planned change from LED LCD to OLED technology, also according to the unnamed, but multiple sources. The “sources,” as mentioned, go on to claim “Around 2 million Apple‘s iTVs with 65- and 77-inch liquid crystal displays (LCD), however, Apple employees visited this local company in October 2013 to delay the plans to next year,” This is where the story falls apart.
First, there are no 77-inch LCD panels, only OLED. The source is either confused or something was lost in translation. Next is the volume. Apple’s mass market products are its iPads, iPhones and laptops. These are not very expensive but traditionally a price premium over their competition.
Apple does not have any consumer product that’s the most expensive in its category. More expensive than some, yes, often more expensive compared to what you get in a competing product, yet, but there are always more expensive offerings. Even its top of the line desktop, at $4,000, is not the most expensive PC you can get. A 65-inch UHD OLED, based on current prices, would have to start at over $5000 TV. This is way outside the range of an Apple product, not to mention well beyond the volume of the TV market. Apple aims for the sweet spot in any market they enter, and add a slight price premium. A $5,000 UHD OLED would be like they came to market with the iPhone and priced it at $2,000. Not a solid business decision, in either case, and Apple is smarter than that.
Marketing research company, NPD cemented the volume issue yesterday by predicting worldwide sales of curved OLED televisions at only 100,00 units this year, 500,00 units in 2015 and around 1,000,000 units in 2016. (The 65-inch and 77-inch LG OLED panels are both curved.) Not the type of numbers the sources claim in Apple iTV sales predictions.
Last, for Apple to succeed in TV and really redo the category, it needs an iTunes type of ecosystem for more TV programming choices. There have been multiple reports of a pending Comcast/Apple deal for content delivery. Comcast owns NBC Universal with a huge catalog and is the linchpin for Apple to launch a television system.
We see no future for Apple in the TV space without a content deal and our sources have told us this is the reason for years of failures to launch the iTV. So we’re not saying Apple won’t do an iTV, but this isn’t it.
We will continue to follow the rumors and stories about the Apple iTV and will report any updates.
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