Apple quietly shelved plans to launch its own branded television set more than a year ago

New Apple TV concept

Ever since Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that he had finally cracked user interface for a television set, the chatter about Apple possibly releasing its own branded television sets has got louder.

If you were eagerly waiting for Apple to launch its own branded television set then I’ve some bad news. The Wall Street Journal reports that according to “people familiar with the matter” Apple quietly shelved plans to launch its own branded television set more than a year ago.

The report claims that Apple executives didn’t find any compelling features to justify making their own branded television set in the highly competitive television market.

Apple had searched for breakthrough features to justify building an Apple-branded television set, those people said. In addition to an ultra-high-definition display, Apple considered adding sensor-equipped cameras so viewers could make video calls through the set, they said.

Ultimately, though, Apple executives didn’t consider any of those features compelling enough to enter the highly competitive television market, led by Samsung Electronics Co. Apple typically likes to enter a new product area with innovative technology and easier-to-use software.

According to the report, Apple developed a transparent display, like a pane of glass when turned off, but used lasers to display an image when turned on. But it did not make it past the prototype phase as the image quality was poor, and it also consumed a lot of power. Apple has experimented with video calling feature like FaceTime, which detected who was talking and directed the camera to the speaker. However, the report notes that Apple executives didn’t find it compelling enough to make their own television set.

Rumors claimed Apple was working on an iOS based television set, which could include Siri for extensive voice control rather than the conventional remote control.

However, recent rumors have suggested that Apple had scaled back its lofty TV plans. It is reportedly in talks with media companies and pay TV distributors about launching a new streaming television service and revamped Apple TV set-top box which will come with a redesigned remote that will include a “Touch Pad”.

The next generation device may be more than just a media-streaming device with support for apps, games and bluetooth gaming controllers. It may also connect to the iPhone and iPad, which could be used to interact with games on the HDTV-connected device. Apple is widely expected to unveil the next generation Apple TV and the new streaming television services at next month’s developer conference, but WSJ points out that it would depend on whether it can close the deal before the event.

Earlier today, well-known activist investor Carl Icahnn in an open letter to Tim Cook said that Apple’s stock was under valued as he believed the company will enter two new product categories — an electric car in 2020 and a television next year, with a combined addressable market of $2.2 trillion. He probably needs to scaled down his expectations as the story seems to be planted by Apple PR in response to the open letter.

What do you think? Were you eagerly waiting for Apple to launch their own branded television set? Are you disappointed with the news that it has shelved plans?

[via WSJ]