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Apple telly may sport Sharp screen tech

Who cares? It's more fun watching the CE biz squirm

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Does it really matter if Sharp is, as one analyst claims, re-equipping one of its LCD production lines to punch out Apple-branded tellies?

For punters, it doesn't matter at all. If Apple doesn't buy panels from Sharp, it'll get them from someone else, most likely Samsung and/or LG, as these companies are the largest producers of LCD panels in the world.

Sharp may have a better, more technologically advanced panel, but what will really make an Apple television stand out will be its industrial design, the software that goes into it and the service infrastructure it connects to.

The glass is just a small part of the proposition.

But the consumer electronics industry is desperate to get a handle on what Apple is planning, and it hopes knowledge of the company's manufacturing partners will help it gain such an understanding.

It's been interesting to see the jolts of raw fear talk of an Apple TV seems to send through the consumer electronics industry. Android may have overtaken iOS in the smartphone operating system race, but the iPod's conquest of the music world means Apple is still the company competitors fear.

Journalists and readers around here may disapprove of the company, but rivals appreciate Apple's ability to successfully enter a market it wasn't previously associated with and make it it own.

CE firms have seen how Apple released the iPad, leaving drop-jawed players in the PC business falling over themselves to catch up, and they don't want to suffer the same fate.

Releasing a new TV right now might seem a bonkers notion. All the major names are selling fewer sets at the moment, some experiencing much bigger sales dips than others. They have failed to persuade us to buy into 3D and even much more useful net connectivity isn't driving upgrades.

Apple knows that, and if it comes out with a new set next year, you can bet it will be pitched at buyers who can afford to buy and have the confidence to do despite the current economic climate. Say what you like about Apple fans, they're spending money and doing so at a time when most consumers are tightening belts.

In 2007, Apple's announcement in California of the iPhone entirely overshadowed the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) half a continent away in Las Vegas. Exhibitors and attendees could talk of little else.

Even without an announcement - or any hard facts, even - Apple's rumoured TV looks set to spur a repeat of that situation. ®

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