If there is one analyst convinced Apple is indeed launching an HDTV this year, it is Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek. First Misek said in November that Sharp was getting its manufacturing lines ready for an “iTV” product (he also said the iPad 3 would have a Retina display with slightly less pixel density than iPhone 4S) that could go into commercial production as early as last month. A new report from Misek (via BusinessInsider) claimed small quantities of TV components are starting to move through Apple’s supply chain. He also said production of up to 5 million units could kick off as early as May, and he still expects the product to launch by Q4 of this year:
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Evidence of commercial iTV production is starting: we believe specialty components have begun to ship to Apple’s Asia panel suppliers with polarized films, filters, and IGZO components starting to move in small quantities. We expect commercial production in May/ June with 2M to 5M builds likely. We still expect a CQ4 launch.
Today’s reports from Misek backs word from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster who said last month that Apple is already working with TV component suppliers for a late 2012 product launch. Misek also said in February that Apple could likely go with the “iTV” moniker for its HDTV product, something that the TV network of the same name does not plan to make easy. Misek continued by claiming Apple could collaborate with its carrier partners (Verizon and AT&T) for content deals and possibly “leverage content into a YouTube-like model” from iPhone and iPad user-generated content.
Alongside the new iPad, Apple just refreshed its Apple TV set-top box offering to include a new UI, full iCloud access, and support for 1080p video. Although those features would translate well into a HDTV product, the future of the Apple TV is up in the air with the prospect of an Apple-branded HDTV. Apple is also rumored to be working to launch a TV streaming service by Christmas. This is something that has met resistance from content providers, but it would line up nicely with rumors of a Q4 2012 HDTV launch.
Other takeaways from Misek’s note this morning (via Fortune): Misek upped Apple’s target from $500 to $699 based on increased iPhone estimates of 155 million (from 145 million), an iPhone 5 release prediction for calendar Q3 with up to 50 million units during 2012, and steady iPad builds. He also increased his Q2 iPhone sales estimate from 28 million to 33.1 million. Yesterday, Apple closed the day at an all-time high of $552, which is about $100 billion above Exxon’s market cap.