Munster on iTV: ‘if’ has been decided and now the question is ‘when’

Riding on his iTV  predictions, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a note to clients today that a number of factors, including Tim Cook’s D10 talk earlier this week, have led him to confidently assume that a full-fledged television set from Apple is a now a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’.

He is expecting iTV models ranging from 42 inches to 55 inches, costing between $1,500 and $2,000. Apple will announce its standalone television set later this year, he speculated, with general availability six months later…

AppleInsider relays Munster’s note to clients:

We believe ‘if’ has been decided and now the question is ‘when.’

He calculated the product would add between 4 and 8 percent to Apple’s calendar year 2013 revenues.

So, why be so sure of the iTV?

Well, Munster believes a number of factors are now supporting his theory, from third party reports and Munster’s checks with component suppliers over the past two years to that note in Steve Jobs’ biography about “cracking the code” to building a TV and Tim Cook’s D10 interview earlier this week.

Cook all but confirmed that Apple could be working on such a product, telling journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the D10: All Things Digital conference that Apple TV sales hit 2.8 million units this year so far, nearly matching the 2.7 millions sold during the calendar year 2011.

He also hinted this is “an area of intense interest for us” and promised that Apple is going to “keep pulling this string and see where it takes us”, adding:

I think many people would say, this is an area in their life that they’re not really pleased with. The whole TV experience. So it’s an interesting area. We’ll have to see what we do. Right now, our contribution is Apple TV.

And just how would Apple go about disrupting the TV set biz?

Here’s the way we’d look at it. Not just at this, but other areas. We’d look and ask, can we control the key technology? Can we make a significant contribution far beyond what others have done in this area? Can we make a product that we all want?

We think we’re reasonable proxies for others. So those are things we’d ask about any new product category. This is sort of how we think. How we think about it, how we look at it.

For all we know, Cook could have been talking about improving the current $99 hockey puck.

However, a mounting evidence now suggests a standalone HD TV set could be in the works, especially with Foxconn acquiring a stake in Japanese electronics maker Sharp and its cutting-edge display plant.

Boy Genius Report recently claimed that a much more feature-complete version of the operating system that drives the Apple TV will be unveiled at WWDC on June 11, with sources saying it’ll power the iTV.

Looks like this thing is becoming real after all.