According to Nick Bilton of The New York Times, Apple is absolutely building a television set, which will include the Siri voice recognition technology found in the iPhone 4S.
Bilton considers the Apple television to be a “guaranteed product,” citing anonymous sources within Apple as his reasons for believing so. The project has apparently been in the works for a number of years, and could be released as soon as 2013. Bilton’s article states the following:
…an individual who has knowledge of Apple’s prototype supply chains overseas told me they had seen some “large parts floating around” that belonged to Apple. This person believed that it “looked like the parts could be part of a large Apple television…I was told repeatedly that Apple would eventually make a television. “Absolutely, it is a guaranteed product for Apple,” I was told by one individual. “Steve thinks the industry is totally broken.”
The article suggests that the experience would be unique, using voice controls rather than a remote control. Simply telling Siri to play a music video or retrieve a YouTube clip would be all that is necessary to drive the device:
It’s the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk: “Put on the last episode of Gossip Girl.” “Play the local news headlines.” “Play some Coldplay music videos.” Siri does the rest.
Although Bilton firmly believes the Apple television will be coming, he also acknowledges that the company still has quite a bit of work to do, particularly on the design of the television, and suggests that the cost of the display itself might force Apple to delay the product to some extent.
Of course, there’s also content, and building the agreements necessary to make the device work with (or replace) cable and satellite television providers, which will likely also be significant hurdles for Apple to overcome with the product. Bilton ends on an optimistic note:
The company is now close enough that it could announce the product by late 2012, releasing it to consumers by 2013.
It is coming though. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
I certainly hope so. If Bilton is right, 2013 can’t come fast enough for me.