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Rumor: Apple Still in Design Stage with iTV

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is currently working with component suppliers in Asia to test several designs of the rumored iTV.

Unnamed officials for various Apple suppliers claim that the iPad company has been working on testing a few iOS-based HDTV prototypes for a number of years. One of these test units even reportedly stems from a collaboration with Foxconn and Sharp.

That said, one official reports that Apple still hasn't "locked down" on a particular design, that it still isn't a "formal" project and is in the early stage of testing. However the Wall Street Journal points out that Apple generally tests and developes products internally before reaching out to its suppliers. This seems to indicate that Apple may have progressed to the next stage of its iTV development.

Now here's something to chew on: iTV may be why Foxconn is coming to North America. The company recently confirmed that it plans to expand its operations into the United States. Spokesperson Louis Woo said that Americans simply want more of their products manufactured locally, but first the company will need to work out the kinks in the supply chain, and hire on "high-value engineering talent" to replace cheap labor.

Prior to the Foxconn confirmation, a previous report said that Foxconn may focus its North American efforts on HDTV production. Even more, these factories will reportedly be highly automated and easier to manage. Add all those ingredients together, and you have Apple working on an HDTV that will be manufactured by Foxconn here in the States and mostly assembled by robots. The departments will be run by engineers hired here, trained overseas, and then brought back to work in the American Foxconn facility.

With all that out of the way, we know that Apple is trying to change the way we watch television much like the way it transformed the mobile phone and slate sectors. The current method of TV entertainment is supposedly "broken" according to the late Steve Jobs, and with Siri and Apple's innovative iOS platform, the company is understandably taking its time in getting it right.

Just recently Apple CEO Tim Cook implied to NBC that an Apple TV product is defimitely in the works. "When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook said. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou reportedly said that talks to get an up to 9.9-percent stake in Sharp will not change even though Qualcomm offered the display manufacturer a cash injection, granting Qualcomm a 5-percent stake in Sharp. Gou said Foxconn and Sharp should reach a decision before the March 2013 deadline.

The news arrives after Sharp's mounting loses have taken their toll on the relationship with Foxconn over the last several months. However so far the two companies have not come to an agreement over how much will be invested into the display manufacturer.

As for the iTV, Apple still may have a long way to go before the device – whether it's another set-top box or an actual HDTV – will see the light of day. For years we've read reports that Apple is having difficulty in landing specific deals with content owners and cable operators. There's also a reported level of fear in that Apple could possibly dominate the entertainment market much like it has with the pre-Android mobile market with its iPad and iPhone. It will be interesting to see how Apple will change the face of the living room if everything falls into place.

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