iring2-concept

iRing concept by Victor Soto (via YankoDesign)

We’ve seen predictions for an Apple HDTV and a revamped Apple TV experience come and go over the last couple of years. Analysts have predicted several times since as far back as 2011 that we’d see Apple introduce its own full-fledged TV set by the end of the year, and the most vocal analyst, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, was still calling for a full HDTV by the end of the year with an innovative new remote control last we checked in. Today, in a note that sounds like it should have been scheduled for an April 1 release, another analyst has backed Munster’s claims that Apple will launch a full TV set (not a set-top box) in the second half of 2013.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White issued a note to clients today, following checks with supply chain sources in Asia (via BGR), claiming Apple’s “iTV” project will launch this year in 50- to 60-inch variants and come with a ring-shaped motion controller dubbed, get this, “iRing”:

The “iTV” ecosystem represents a major innovation for the $100 billion LCD TV industry that will revolutionize the TV experience forever, in our view. First of all, we believe “iTV” will be 60-inches in size (but could also include 50-55 inch options). Secondly, we believe Apple will release a miniature device called “iRing” that will be placed on a user’s finger and act as a navigation pointer for “iTV”, enhancing the motion detection experience and negating some of the functionality found in a remote.

White continued by saying Apple will include a “mini iTV” with iTV that will allow users to have a second-screen experience on a smaller, iPad-sized display:

Thirdly, “iTV” will come with a “mini iTV” screen that will seamlessly allow users to view content on this smaller, 9.7-inch screen, while also opening up use cases around home security, phone calls, video conferencing and other areas. As part of this experience, Siri and FaceTime will be important. Essentially, we believe the “mini iTV” screens will be able to capture content from the 60-inch “iTV” across a distance of up to 200 meters, allowing a user to view “iTV” content in the kitchen, washroom, garage, bedroom, backyard, etc.

The one “mini iTV” display, which sounds like a scaled-back iPad hardware of sorts, will apparently come bundled with the iTV, but customers will be able to pay extra to upgrade up to four screens. White noted “the capabilities and features will be very basic and thus not an iPad replacement,” so it’s unclear what that means for the “mini iTV” in terms of functioning as a standalone tablet, but we’re not exactly buying it.

White’s last prediction: iWatch will play an “important role” in the new platform (surprise). Customers will also have to hand over between $1,500 and $2,500 for the iTV, but he claimed there is a possibility the device could be subsidized:

Furthermore, we believe “iWatch” will be an important part of the “iTV” ecosystem, tapping into “iTV” services in a much more mobile friendly manner, complementing the “iRing”. The interaction between “iTV” and making phone calls will be an important feature of this experience, while the “iWatch” and “iRing” will provide increased mobility around the home, supplanting the need to carry a smartphone around the house. Finally, we believe consumers will pay approximately $1,500 to $2,500 for the “iTV” package. The price will be based on the number of “mini iTV” screens in the package and the screen size of the “iTV”. Also, we are being told that “iTV” could be subsidized by certain service providers to expand the market opportunity.

Most of White’s intel today seems to line up with past predictions from analysts, including mentions that the next iPhone will include fingerprint sensor tech. Previous reports claimed components in the 46- to 55-inch range were currently in testing, while the price and motion controller predictions have also been discussed previously.

One interesting aspect of White’s note is the second-screen experience. It’s unclear if these devices would be scaled-back iPad hardware or simply iPads bundled with the iTV alongside dedicated apps, but we definitely expect the second screen/Airplay experience for iPhone and iPad users to play a big role in Apple’s new TV platform. As for whether an Apple HDTV with iRing will really launch later this year, your guess is about as good as White’s.