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Spring launch for Apple OLED TV with Siri, says retail mole

Can it really make money when Sony et al can't?

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Apple's voice-controlled 42in OLED TV could be out this April. Assuming, of course, that the Mac maker is indeed working on such an improbable beast.

That it's gearing up to launch such a product on the late April/early May timeframe has been claimed by "a high-ranking source with a major electronics retailer", cited by Engadget-esque blog TechnoBuffalo.

CEO? Store manager? Janitor? The mole's position is not revealed, but he or she does maintain that the Apple telly will be very thin.

More interesting: the source says Apple is considering using the TV's Siri functionality to control other gadgets around the home.

"Siri, put the popcorn on."

Actually, "Siri, fetch me an ale" would work too, if combined with this beer-serving robot.

But we digress. It's worth considering that while both LG and Samsung showed off 55in OLED TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and that both have promised to ship before the year is done, they'll be charging around $8000 (£5090) for their offerings.

A 42in OLED wouldn't be quite as expensive, but not so very far off, especially given Apple's mark-up policy and the technology being built in.

Assuming it would bother with OLED. Advanced LCD screens can deliver comparable picture quality and will be cheaper. Apple likes its margins, after all.

In November 2011, it was claimed Apple was getting large-format LCDs from Sharp.

But the big question is not who is supplying Apple with components but whether it can make any money out the final product. After all, none of its competitors can.

Consumers spent $115bn on 220m flat-panel TVs in 2011, but the major brands lose money on the sets they sell. Expanding production capacity from 2006 onwards resulted in panel prices falling by 80 per cent between 2004 and 2008. The component parts are low, but so are punters' expectations about how much they should pay for a new TV.

Adding extra features, such as 3D, and the ability to connect to the internet and run apps, doesn't seem to have adjusted consumers' willingness to buy TVs at a premium.

If giants like Sony and Panasonic can't make a profit on TVs, and others are struggling to do so, how can Apple?

One option, rumoured last year, is to offer a big iMac will HDMI inputs and TV tuners. But, again, it will be expensive, and punters generally prefer their computers to sit on their laps or on desks, not with the AV stack. ®

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