Speculation abounds that Apple is preparing a push into television territory with a display incorporating Apple TV and iTunes. An anonymous source is cited saying that Apple plans to “blow Netflix and all those other guys away”. The former Apple executive said: “You’ll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV”. The distinction between a computer display and television screen is diminishing by the day. The operating system that supports it will be critical in defining the connected device ecosystem.

The source suggested that Apple will partner with a major consumer electronics supplier to produce the displays. The unnamed individual was talking to the DailyTech web site, which remained somewhat sceptical about the prospect, expressing incredulity that another manufacturer would be willing to allow Apple to cut into sales of its own branded products. To which the source responded: “If you have to be competing with somebody, you want to be competing with yourself.”

Rumours of an Apple TV have been around for years and some analysts have repeatedly forecast such developments. Some see the recently announced Apple iCloud service as support for such a proposition.

“Apple’s iCloud service for media storage makes it easier to own multiple devices and share content among them,” wrote Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, a longstanding supporter of the view that Apple has its eye on the television market. “At first the only media iCloud will store is music and pictures, but we believe Apple may add movies and TV shows purchased or rented in iTunes to the iCloud service, which could be viewed on a TV.”

Initially that is likely to be through the Apple TV device, but he writes: “The final step would be bringing the Apple TV software and the App Store to an Apple Television,” he said. “Apple’s expertise in software and apps would be a strong differentiator for the company in the television market.”

Piper Jaffray estimates that an Apple TV could add $2.5 billion to revenues for Apple in 2012, approaching $4 billion in 2013 and $6 billion in 2014, based on achieving just a 3% share of the connected television market.

Any real news of television and video services was notably absent in the recent Apple iCloud announcement, but it would be a logical next step.

A challenge remains securing the support of the major studios, which are currently pinning their hopes on UltraViolet, an ambitious plan to enable consumers to license media across up to six members of a household account, across multiple devices.

Meanwhile we can expect the re-launch of Google TV in the United States later in the summer, although it is not likely to reach Europe until 2012.

Google has acquired Sage TV, a company that provides media centre and digital video recording software, for Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac and Linux platforms. This prompted speculation that Google might be considering adding digital video recording capabilities to its Google TV platform.

After initially launching with Sony and Logitech, Google is now also working with Samsung and Vizio as partners. Google hopes that television device and display manufacturers will adopt the open Android platform in much the same way as it has already transformed the mobile handset market. Indeed, the main significance of Google TV may be in providing an operating system for large screens, much as Android has opened up the market for smartphones and tablets.

As previously noted by informitv, it may also be wrong to think about Apple selling a traditional television receiver, but a large screen that supports the
Apple iOS operating system is another matter. The large living room screen will become just another screen, and traditional television will be just another source.