Supply chain chatter claims Apple is building 4K ‘Ultra HD’ TV set

It’s been a while since we’ve heard any new information regarding Apple’s rumored TV project. It seems ‘iTV’ speculation has been replaced by talk of Apple’s secret plans for the smartwatch space, and its expected entry into the budget handset market.

But that changed this evening with a new report out of China, claiming that Apple has been in discussions with Foxconn over the production schedule of a TV set. And the 4K ‘Ultra HD’ television will finally land in either late 2013, or early next year…

DigiTimes reports:

“Apple is reportedly continuing to develop a TV rumored to be called the iTV, which is likely to support Ultra HD (3840 by 2160) along with voice and motion control functions and Internet connectivity, according to industry supply chain sources.

The sources said that Apple and Foxconn Electronics have been in discussions for quite some time in terms of the TV’s mass production schedule, but that Apple has been considering where panel supply for the TV will come from, as Ultra HD TV panel makers, most of whom are based in Taiwan, are expected to be producing at nearly full capacity in 2013 in order to meet demand from China-based TV vendors.”

The report goes on to say that Apple is banking on LG Display for most of its 4K panel production, and is hoping it will be able to mass produce them by the second half of the year. If it is, Apple is expected to unveil its television in late 2013, or early 2014.

As always, it’s worth noting that DigiTimes has a hit-and-miss track record with Apple intel. So while it has proven on a number of occasions to have reliable supply chain sources—particularly in display panel lines—their reports do come with an asterisk.

And of course, critics maintain that Apple has no interest in televisions, as the life cycle on a TV set is far longer than that of a smartphone or tablet, and the margins are considerably worse. So many of them are calling for an external set top box instead.

Looking back, the last credible report regarding Apple’s TV set came back in December, when The Wall Street Journal said it was testing prototype television designs with Asian suppliers. “It isn’t a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing.”

Before that though, there were numerous reports. In fact, we’ve heard so many at this point that it’s hard to get excited. But assuming it’s really coming, Apple’s biggest obstacle with the 4K set will be its price tag. Right now, most 4K TVs cost at least $20,000.

Image credit: Martin Hajek