Apple is working with Sharp and Foxconn to test designs for a TV set, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Rumors of such a product have persisted for years, but this is the most solid information we've heard yet that Cupertino is looking to produce an actual television. While a Journal report from the supply chain is often the first sign that Apple is serious about a new product, it looks like things are still in the early stages, with one source saying that the TV "isn't a formal project yet." The Journal also cautions that Apple "could opt not to proceed with the device." It's not the first rumor we've heard from the paper, however: a report from around a year ago claimed that Apple was showing new interface designs to content partners.
The TV "isn't a formal project yet"
If Apple does proceed with the product, its long-time manufacturing partner Foxconn would seem like a good fit. Hon Hai, the parent company of Foxconn, bought a large stake in Sharp earlier this year and took control of its Sakai plant in western Japan, which is one of the most advanced LCD production facilities in the world. According to the Journal, the plant is suitable for TVs of over 60 inches in size, and Foxconn has been using it to produce similar sets for Vizio this year.
The report comes at a time when speculation over the fabled Apple television has never been higher. CEO Tim Cook went on a PR offensive last week that was most notable for his comments about the TV business; he re-iterated that it was "an area of intense interest" for Apple, and said that "TV has been left behind." Of course, Apple's ability to come up with the hardware goods is beyond doubt — whether they could negotiate the necessary content deals and provide a truly new TV viewing experience, however, is less clear.