Production of Apple's long-rumored HDTV could begin as early as next quarter, according to recent reports. The television's LCD displays are rumored to be headed to Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn from Sharp sometime during the third quarter of this year, with a release date scheduled for sometime in the fourth quarter (just in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season, naturally).
The information comes from a Chinese news site via Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White. It seems that the news site - 21cbh.com - spoke with several sources at Sharp, all of whom claimed that the company's LCD panels have been ordered and will be shipped to Foxconn next quarter.
The idea that Sharp could be the supplier of LCD panels for the Apple TV (or iTV, as it's occasionally called), has been around for a few months now. Back in March we brought you news that Foxconn's parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., had purchased a 10% stake in Sharp, a move that would allow Sharp to offset billions of dollars in potential losses next quarter.
Of course, Apple's largest manufacturing partner buying a stake in a display company set off rumors about the Apple TV. Those rumors were bolstered earlier this week by news that Hon Hai may be preparing to make yet another investment in Sharp.
There have been rumors of Apple diving into the television market with its own HDTV for several years now. Over the last 8 months or so, though, those rumors have been growing consistently more intense and, on the whole, more credible, due in part to statements in Steve Jobs's biography that an Apple television was among Jobs's last projects with Apple, and Job's claim that just before he left Apple he finally "cracked it."
The majority of the rumors about the Apple TV have suggested a release sometime in the late third or early fourth quarter of this year, which White's information supports. If so, it looks like some of us will have to make some room on our Christmas lists this year.