Apple Reportedly Testing TV Set Designs, Which Should Surprise Exactly No One

The WSJ reports this morning that Apple is testing out Apple TV set (as opposed to set-top box) designs, though that testing remains “early stage.” Apple is specifically working on high-res TVs according to the reports, trialling a few different designs, working with a variety of suppliers including Hon Hai (Foxconn) and Sharp on the new TV designs. TV testing isn’t new for Apple, according to the report, and we’ve heard plenty about it before, plus Apple CEO Tim Cook is being far less coy about Apple’s television plans in recent interviews.

Here’s the bottom line: Apple is working on a TV. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has been going on about that for years, and every year they don’t make one he looks a little less credible. But he’s not wrong. The WSJ report only serves to reinforce the idea that Apple has been tinkering with televisions, beyond the first, second and third-generation Apple TV set-top boxes they’ve shipped, for a long while now. Steve Jobs discussed Apple tackling the space in his Walter Isaacson biography, and other sources, including the New York Times, have as much as called an Apple television a lock for a future product launch.

So has anything changed? Or is this still just an R&D project that’s no closer to seeing the light of day? Well, there are some indicators that Apple could be farther along in the process, according to this new report. First, even working with outside suppliers indicates a certain level of maturity, since often Apple works internally long before talking to manufacturing or component partners ever enter the mix. Second, Foxconn has made steps to expand into HDTV production, on the back of a strategic investment by Chairman Terry Gou in a formerly Sharp-owned LCD factory. Current Apple TV sales are also on the rise.

But there’s still a long way to go, as Apple has no content deals in place for a television set, at least not with major cable and media providers. So in the end, while it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Apple is actively tinkering with TV sets, no one should be holding their breath about such a device’s arrival, at least not yet.