A report in the Korea Herald has revived talk that Apple may be preparing either its own HDTV set or a partnership with a known brand to bring new technology to a future television product. The newspaper quotes analysts from IBK Securities as saying that Apple has requested sample 65-inch OLED display panels from an unnamed Korean manufacturer for testing. Given traditionally low yields of large OLED displays and their high price, the report seems speculative.
The source quoted in the report claims that Apple will launch the "iTV" in the second half of the year, ordering two million units with 65- and 77-inch OLED displays. The source claims that Apple had originally planned to debut the set for the holiday season of 2013, but informed the supplier that it would delay those plans, causing the display maker's stock to plummet. Known Korean companies that manufacture LCD displays include Samsung, LG, Hansol, S-LCD and Boe Hydis (formerly known as Hyundai Display).
Rumors of Apple producing its own or co-branded HDTV set have floated around for quite a number of years, fanned to a fury in 2011 and 2012 when both former CEO Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook expressed their interest in "television" as a general concept. Jobs told biographer Walter Issacson that he had "cracked" a method of revolutionizing the user interface of modern televisions, and Cook has called TV "an area of intense interest" and a market space "there's a lot we can contribute."
More recently, Apple has focused on expanding and improving its Apple TV set-top box, which has become over several years a top-seller in the now-crowded field. Once described as a "hobby" by both Jobs and Cook, it has grown into its own billion-dollar business and fostered Jobs' vision of it becoming a "must-have" accessory to the company's primary iOS devices, the iPhone and iPad.
Apple has spent the last year adding content, testing large-scale live-event broadcasts, and is rumored to be revamping the product in order to add native iOS app support in the near future. It remains possible that Apple could be seeking an HDTV manufacturing partner to offer the advantages of an Apple TV device (and potentially more) incorporated directly into a television set itself. Cook has often described the present user interface of so-called "smart TVs" as "outdated."