The Central News Agency (CNA) of Taiwan reported 12/21 that initial testing of television sets for Apple has started at Chinese manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, a source at the Taiwan-based company said.
Apple is working with Hon Hai, the main assembler of the U.S. consumer electronics giant’s iPhones and iPads, to test several designs for its long-hyped TVs.
Hon Hai, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has declined to respond to the reports, saying that it never comments on specific business deals with any single client.
However, the Hon Hai source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the initial phase of tests on the TVs has kicked off. Nevertheless, the source said it is unlikely that shipments of the appliances will begin as soon as the end of next year.
The source also predicted that Apple TV shipments could be huge and that new Apple TV-related products might be put on display at CES Las Vegas in January (so that could mean CES 2104).
According to the source, Apple’s new TVs will need flat panels ranging between 46 inches and 55 inches, which means that Hon Hai will not need to get its supply exclusively from Sharp. Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou’s investment company holds a stake in a liquid-crystal-display factory owned by Sharp, Sakai International Operation, which focuses on producing 60-inch LCD panels.
The Hon Hai source said Apple’s new TVs will probably use flat panels produced by either Japanese or Taiwanese suppliers.
“We have not yet confirmed the LCD panel supply source with our client,” he said.
Apple CEO Tim Cook told NBC News recently that the company’s interest in TV has grown beyond a “hobby.”
“It’s an area of intense interest,” Cook said.
A recent report from The Wall Street Journal noted the set will not ship before Nov. 2013.
So, a surprise 2013 CES appearance by Apple would almost certainly have been leaked already.