Could an Apple TV be the next big iProduct?

An Apple TV was very much on the mind of Steve Jobs, according to a new biography.

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    Is Apple prepping a TV set? Here, the Apple store in New York City.
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Apple CEO Steve Jobs "cracked" the secret of the television set, and was actively working on a prototype until his death on October 5. So says Walter Isaacson, the author of a new biography of Jobs.

"I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," Jobs told Isaacson. "It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Apple has remained mum – par for the course – but Bloomberg is reporting that the Apple TV effort will be led by Jeff Robbin, who helped pioneer both the iPod and the iTunes store. So what will the Apple TV look like? Let the speculation begin!

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Over at ZDNet, Scott Raymond argues that the "the product," whatever it is, "will likely be an attractive, quality device that will look stunning and be easy to use." Still, as Raymond admits, the road will be a steep for Apple. The market, he notes, is already chock full of inexpensive, high-quality units.

"I’m not saying that Apple should give up on a television product," Raymond writes. "I simply think that they should focus on an expanded product built on the existing Apple TV platform. Make it bigger. Add [recording] capabilities. Put Siri in it. Then allow it to be plugged into a TV of our own choosing. The market for televisions is huge because there are so many different categories that consumers want, based on size, location, affordability, and so forth."

Note that he's not writing about a TV set, but rather a box, much like the Apple TV box that already exists. A full TV set opens a whole new can of worms.

As Peter Pachal of PC World writes today – headline: "5 big obstacles standing in the way of a real Apple TV" – the television market isn't exactly like the smartphone market, or the tablet market, which Apple has sounded dominated for the last year. For one, the TV market seems to be shrinking, with Sony and LG posting major losses in the consumer electronics categories.

"The Consumer Electronics Association agrees: its own statistics have seen the overall size of the TV market drop from a peak of 34.8 million units sold in 2009 to a projected 32.6 million in 2012," Pachal writes. "On top of that, prices are in free-fall: In 2007 the average screen sold for $982; this year it's $545. Apple's brand is powerful, but is it strong enough to convince people to pay more for TVs while the market's pressuring everyone else to go cheaper?"

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