Rumor: Apple’s iTV Panels Being Made by a Korean Supplier


Is Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) long-rumored “iTV” finally on its way? A new rumor from Asia suggests that the Cupertino-based company has partnered with a Korea-based display maker to make a large-screen OLED (organic light-emitting diode) television. According to Seoul-based analysts cited by The Korea Herald, an unnamed local display maker is already manufacturing sample display panels for Apple’s iTV.

“The company is making 65-inch organic light-emitting diode sample panels for Apple’s iTV in collaboration with Apple,” IBK Securities analyst Lee Seung-woo told The Korea Herald. “However, it is not certain whether Apple will use it for the mass production of its long-rumored iTV as it is still running tests.”

The Korea Herald also cited another “source close to the matter” who claimed that Apple had originally planned to unveil its iTV in the second half of this year, but later delayed its plans after it decided to switch from LCD panels to OLED. “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,” said the unnamed source. “However, Apple employees visited this local company in October 2013 to delay the plans to next year. Following the visit, the display maker’s stock prices plunged.”

According to The Korea Herald’s sources, the unnamed Korea-based display maker will have an advantage over other Apple display suppliers such as Japan Display and Sharp, since those companies currently lack the capability to make large OLED for televisions. Japan Display and Sharp are already rumored to be supplying components for Apple’s so-called “iPhone 6.”

Rumors of an Apple-branded television set have been circulating ever since former Apple CEO Steve Jobs discussed the product with his biographer. “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud,” Jobs told Walter Isaacson according to the Washington Post. “No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

Despite Jobs’s ambitions for an Apple television set, many industry watchers believe that the company is currently focused on improving its Apple TV media-streaming device. According to unnamed industry sources recently cited by The Wall Street Journal, Apple has been in talks with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) over the possibility of creating a streaming-television service that would bypass congestion caused by public Internet traffic. The proposed service would feature on-demand video content as well as live television shows and currently running programs.

It should also be noted that the profit margins on television sets are notoriously low. An iTV would therefore either have to be prohibitively expensive, or Apple would have to sell it for an unacceptably low profit margin. Both possibilities seem unlikely considering Apple’s business model of selling high-profit devices that are refreshed on an annual basis.

This is not the first time that an iTV production rumor has emerged from Asia. Last summer, the Taipei-based DigiTimes reported that Apple was in talks with LG Display (NYSE:LPL) over the purchase of 55-inch and 65-inch Ultra High-Definition television panels.

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