Foxconn's recent deal with Sharp may be the biggest confirmation yet that Apple's long-rumored iTV is on its way. Apple has reportedly been in talks for several months with component suppliers, though some - Samsung and LG, particularly - have been less than receptive to Apple's overtures.
Yesterday Foxconn made news with an announcement that its parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., was investing $1.6 billion in Sharp. Diminishing demand for its products has hit Sharp hard recently, to the point that the company expects to post a $3.49 billion loss for the fiscal year (which ends on March 31st). Hon Hai's investment in Sharp allows the struggling company to stay afloat while providing an easy shortcut around Apple's display supply problems for the iTV.
Apple's iTV has been rumored for years, since the launch of the second generation Apple TV in 2010. Despite these rumors, such a device has never materialized. Last year, though, Steve Jobs's biographer Walter Isaacson revealed that the iTV was among the last projects Jobs was working on during his time at Apple, and Jobs revealed to Isaacson that he had finally "cracked it." In the months since then increasingly credible reports have said that an iTV (though that likely won't be its final name) is in the works. Many expect the iTV to launch sometime this year - most agree that the third quarter is likely - but news this morning suggests that 2013 might be more likely.