One in two willing to pay a premium for the better Apple television interface

Here’s something to chew on as another Wall Street voice chimes in on the possibility of an Apple-made television set. In a survey, 47 percent of consumers say they are interested in an iTV with about the same number willing to pay more than a thousand bucks to put an Apple logo in their living room. Perhaps most intriguing is how one analyst opens the door to an iTV without the headaches of licensing content.

According to the survey by AlphaWise and Morgan Stanley, eleven percent of US head-of-households polled said they were “extremely interested” in an Apple television, with 36 percent “somewhat interested.” The 47 percent of interested consumers is greater than the number of people who were interested in the iPhone and iPad, when those Apple devices first entered the American conscious…

According to that survey, 23 percent of people polled in early 2007 were interested in buying an iPhone, while an April 2010 poll found 21 percent of consumers interested in purchasing an iPad.

However, a curious finding (via AppleInsider) also opens the door for Apple to do what it’s best at: offer a way to avoid complicated negotiations with content owners – that is, build a better smart TV.

Consumers who own a smart TV connected to the Internet actually view Internet content less than people who own traditional, “dumb” televisions.

According to analyst Katy Huberty:

This suggests that Smart TVs currently available on the market do not offer easy-to-use software to integrate Internet content into users’ TV experience.

In other words, let Apple do for the television set what it has already done for cell phones with the iPhone and brought tablet computing back from the dead with the iPad – make them usable.

Everyone of a certain age remembers the usability problems of early televisions, including the nightmare of horizontal and vertical scrolling – not to mention the “snow” from over-the-air broadcasts.

While modern television has largely eliminated technical problems, there remains the problem of searching amongst hundreds of channels using a clunky interface suited for the last century.

Indeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook told NBC that watching television now feels “like I have gone back in time by 20 or 30 years.”

In marketing terms, that is the “pain point” Apple could easily solve.

But does the company want to tackle just the UI without controlling the content, as well?

Earlier this year, SVP Eddy Cue told analyst Andy Hargreaves that a television set without revolutionizing the way content is delivered to TVs “would be an incomplete solution.”

However, U.S. consumers would be darn happy to have just a television set crafted by Apple, according to Huberty.

“Apple’s strategy could focus less on content and more on the operating system for a potential television set,” she writes. Among the features most desired by consumers: high-quality display and making searching easier.

Imagine an HD television built along the lines of an iMac coupled with a Retina Display and accepting voice commands through Siri?

Concepts of the perfect Apple TV interface via The Verge.

Apparently, quite a number of the U.S. consumers Morgan Stanley polled are willing to pay a premium for such an experience. According to Huberty, 46 percent of those polled say they would pay more than $1,000, while 10 percent said they’d pay more than $2,000.

Those in the 18-29 age bracket were willing to pay a 32 percent premium over the $800 average for smart televisions. Over all, the entire group said they would pay 20 percent more for an Apple television.

If history is an indication, Apple’s TV set – if it ever comes out – will be unlike most concept renders floating around the web these days.

While Huberty isn’t the first to see an opening for an Apple television set, she does lend a more factual basis on which to judge previous claims.

Plus, selling an Apple television without either some set-top box connection or dancing with television studios does move the dream of an iTV closer to reality.

So, would you pay a premium for a smart television from Apple?