Were rumors of an Apple HDTV off base? TV remote functions could be Apple's 'next big thing'

Apple TV Strategy Analysis

An own-brand HDTV from Apple (AAPL) seemed like a done deal earlier this year, but now industry watchers aren’t so sure. A number of analysts reported that production of Apple’s television was already underway as recently as this past August, but more recent reports suggest Apple is instead looking to focus on content delivery and software innovations as it bolsters its home entertainment offerings. In line with the latter position, Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes told clients this week that Apple’s “next big thing” could be enhanced TV remote functions on iOS devices rather than a physical television.

“We feel one of the best ways to increase the iOS device TAM is by expanding use cases so that every home could use an iOS device as a TV remote,” Reitzes wrote in a research note.

Some have speculated in the past that Apple may utilize Siri to create a voice-controlled remote function across iOS devices, where a user might speak functions such as “put on the Yankee game” or “record The Big Bang Theory tonight” instead of having to navigate a cable box UI using a standard remote control.

Reitzes also noted that the upcoming iPad mini will be great for watching movies, but Apple might also use it as a vehicle for new remote software. “We believe the 7” screen on iPad mini could be used for traditional content consumption such as reading books or watching movies, but Apple may have bigger plans for this device over time,” he wrote. “We believe the big secret about Apple’s TV strategy is not the TV itself – it’s about selling the remotes.”

The analyst reiterated his Overweight rating on Apple’s stock as well as his $810 price target.

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