Analyst: Apple Television Release Could be "Imminent"

 
on November 16 2012 3:55 PM

Jefferies & Co. analyst James Kisner believes that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]) is very close to releasing its first television set.

According to Barron's, Kisner told his clients that his "discussions with industry contacts suggest that at least one major N. American MSO [multiple systems operator] is working to estimate how much additional capacity may be needed for a new Apple device on their broadband data network."

"We believe this potentially suggests an imminent launch of the Apple TV," he said. Kisner clarified that he is indeed referring to a brand-new television and not the puck-sized Apple TV video streaming box that is currently available.

AllThingsD's John Paczkowski is skeptical of Kisner's assumption that an Apple-made television could be released imminently. But Paczkowski's own sources told him that "Apple has indeed had talks with a few large cable operators about some new TV product."

These "talks" seem to be shifting from the original goal -- in which Apple was rumored to be launching its own a la carte pay-TV service -- to a more plausible deal with cable providers. By teaming up with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), for example, Apple could feasibly sell its TVs at a subsidized price in exchange for a multi-year contract. In doing so, cable providers may have to give up control of the user interface, which means everything to Apple.

If cable providers agree to relinquish that control, Apple will be able to produce an iPhone-inspired television that functions differently from the TVs that are currently on the market. In exchange, Apple could provide cable companies with billions of dollars in additional revenue and prevent consumers from cutting the cord.

Apple has already done this for the telecommunications industry. While smartphones were popular and profitable long before the iPhone arrived, Apple has provided AT&T (NYSE: T) with billions of dollars in additional revenue. Apple (and now Android) convinced consumers that they should spend more than $100 a month on their cell phone bill.

Imagine what will happen if Apple convinces consumers that they should spend more on cable as well.

Follow me @LouisBedigianBZ(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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