Analyst: Apple iTV will hit in the 4th quarter

editor's corner

Jim O'Neil

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) had its big party for the new iPad and refreshed Apple TV last week, but someone forgot to remind the company to put the rumored iTV on the guest list.

But, at risk of becoming the digital equivalent of Chicken Little (Apple iTV is coming! Apple iTV is coming!), this news from Jeffries analyst Peter Misek puts the company's plans for a connected TV in the news again.

Misek said that during a recent trip to Asia he saw evidence that the company was gearing up to roll out a TV set in the fourth quarter.

In a note to clients he wrote:

"Evidence of commercial iTV production is starting: we believe specialty components have begun to ship to Apple's Asia panel suppliers with polarized films, filters, and IGZO components starting to move in small quantities. We expect commercial production in May/June with 2M to 5M builds likely. We still expect a CQ4 launch."

Flight of fancy or the real deal, Apple's potential move into the TV hardware space has Misek's attention in a big way. He's upping his price target for the company by $100 to $699. That's a pretty big bet for speculation.

Like the Y2K scare (remember?) and the rumor that the world will end in 2012, the Apple iTV rumor has legs. Y2K, obviously, was a bust, and NASA scientists promise that Dec. 21 won't be the last day on our calendar. (NASA goes to great lengths to debunk the 2012 doomsday claims here, just in case you wanted to have some extra small talk available at next week's OTTCon in San Jose, Calif.)

Earlier this month, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who has consistently maintained that Apple will have a smart TV in its product line, told Bloomberg Radio that "Apple television is real.

"I think it's going to be the biggest thing in consumer electronics since the smartphone came out; the biggest thing in five years," he said. "I think it's going to live up to some of the building hype."

Munster says he believes the product will be announced late this year, and that in "classic" Apple fashion, it will put the brakes on traditional holiday TV buying as people wait for it to hit.

Among his comments on the show, that the iTV will look decidedly different than a traditional TV:

"Imagine just a sheet of glass," he said, "...there wouldn't be edges or bevels on it."

Munster said voice will be one way to access content, but a remote would also be available for people who just want to surf what's available.

"I think that's kind of the code that Steve Jobs cracked," Munster said, referring to Jobs' biography.

Apple iTV is coming! Apple iTV is coming...--Jim