Apple may be waiting for Ultra HD panels to reach mass production.
If Apple plans to reinvent the way we watch TV in the living room, then it needs to start with a screen resolution that's better than 1080p, eliminate the remote, and the overall solution needs to be somewhat affordable. That is supposedly the route Apple is taking with iTV, offering not only motion-sensing control functions and Siri-based voice commands, but support for a 3840 x 2160 resolution, or Ultra HD.
In addition to negotiating with content owners, the holdup of Apple's supposed iTV rollout may be partially based upon where the panels will originate. Sources state that Apple and Foxconn have been in negotiations for quite some time in regards to the TV's mass production schedule, but Apple is supposedly shopping around for an Ultra HD panel supplier.
As it stands now, most of these Ultra HD panel suppliers are based in Taiwan. They're expected to be at nearly full capacity later this year in order to meet demand from China-based TV vendors. Apple already has panel makers capable of producing Ultra HD screens in its supply chain, but they're dedicated to high-res panel production for Apple's next generation of the iPhone, iPad and iPad mini.
One of the Ultra HD panel suppliers Apple is relying on is LG Display, which will be able to mass produce Ultra HD TV panels by the second half of the year. If LG is successful and can meet Apple's supply demand by the end of 2013, consumers may finally see iTV in time for the holiday shopping season. If not, the launch may be pushed back to 1Q14.
Of course, the iTV launch will also depend on whether Apple can finally land deals with content suppliers. Apple has traveled a rough road of negotiations for quite a while, as networks and Hollywood have feared that Apple will take over the living room much like it did with the smartphone and tablet sectors. Sources have claimed that Apple's requirements have been a little "pushy" too, thus turning off potential partnerships.
But Apple is feeling the bite of irrelevance. Google's Android has consumed the smartphone sector, appearing on form factors that dwarf the physical size of Apple's "premium" iPhone. Android has also finally taken over the tablet market thanks to smaller form factors like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. Apple has yet to produce something entirely new since the original iPad launch, and the iTV, in addition to the rumored iWatch, seems to be Apple's lifeline.
The iTV is projected to arrive in different sizes and sport the company's iOS platform. Apple is planning to allow customers to start content on one device and resume on another. The company is also seeking to make content discovery extremely easy, using gesture movements and voice control through Siri.
But has Apple already lost the battle? Intel is gearing up to launch its own streaming TV service later this year, and Microsoft will likely open the doors to its own service later this year with the launch of its Xbox Infinity console. Google is already pumping a streaming TV service through Google Fiber.