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Rumors Of An Upcoming Apple 4K OLED TV Are Actually Kind Of Plausible

by on August 22, 2017
 

Stephan Jukic – August 22, 2017

There are plenty of rumors circulating around the web about the possibility of a 4K HDR version of the Apple TV set-top streaming box platform finally being released at some point between now and early 2018. Some of these rumors are however based on fairly credible tech leak tidbits that do reasonably suggest a 4K Apple TV box is on the way.

Now however, other, much more exotic suggestions and “leaks” have emerged that suggest something much more incredible. In essence, according to some of the latest speculation sourced from the Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo, Apple is working on the release of a 60 inch 4K television model with an OLED display. The core of these rumors is a series of rather blurry images which supposedly show the 60 inch TV model being tested in a certification lab somewhere and given these rather vague details, we’d say that the possibility of an Apple TV should be taken with a very big grain of salt. However, as we’ll elaborate on below, there is also an underlying plausibility to this seemingly unlikely idea.

First of all as far as the 4K and OLED specs speculation is concerned, the first of these just makes logical sense. Almost all premium and flagship television releases from any major brand since at least 2015 have been models with 4K ultra HD resolution and even the sometimes UHD-shy Apple would pretty much have to make sure that a hypothetical first-ever TV release by the company come with 4K UHD resolution, anything less wouldn’t impress even the most die-hard Apple fan, and especially if we’re talking about a 55 or 60 inch display. The bit about this being an OLED 4K TV comes from the scant visual “evidence” that the images present –assuming very hypothetically that they’re real at all. The TV in question shows a screen that’s almost entirely razor-thin. This is something that only OLED display technology pulls off at this time. Even the best LCD/LED 4K TVs have at least the entire lower part of their displays backside covered by a protruding casing that conceals LED backlight arrays.

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That said, the images are indeed highly questionable at best. The lab looks like it’s supposed to be an Anechoic chamber for testing in a sound absorbing or electromagnetic wave-free environment but there are little details about it that definitely set off some suspicion. Furthermore, the blurry “clandestine photo” style of the images could just as easily be a way of disguising what is really a piece of complete fakery. Though on the other hand, if this whole thing about the 4K OLED Apple TV is fake, the effort was pretty elaborate considering the lack of potential financial gain to be had here.

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Beyond these assorted details about the images, the idea of Apple now working on not just a 4K TV but an OLED 4K TV of all things does have a surprising thread of plausibility to it even if it seems far-fetched at first glance. We’re going off on a very speculative limb here with this but bear with us for a bit more:

One argument against an Apple TV release is that the TV business itself isn’t exactly booming anyhow due to consumer preference toward holding on to older TV models for quite a while after they buy them and due to general contractions in both profits and sales volume figures of televisions sold year-over-year in the last few years. Yes, both of these are true but only one of the applies to 4K UHD TVs: While the profit margins for both 4K and non-4K TV models keep falling as the prices of both shrink, sales growth of 4K TVs isn’t shrinking at all. Quite the opposite is the case, 4K TV sales are nearly exploding year over year and have been doing so since at least 2014. Many market analysts predict that this particular trend will continue for at least several years to come as more consumers replace their older HDTVs with newer 4K and 4K HDR models. Given this particular trend, Apple would be getting into this expanding market with its own 4K TV at what we’d consider a pretty good point.

And even on the shrinking profits issue, Apple has one major edge that few other brands can match to the same degree: it’s a company with a serious cult following among its customers and Apple has shown repeatedly that it can sell its versions of popular consumer products at a considerable premium because of this fan-base. In other words, you better believe that there will be many consumers who would buy any sort of Apple 4K TV with something as premium as OLED display technology even if it were very expensive, as it without a doubt would be.

Another major argument against the idea of a 4K Apple OLED TV is that Apple simply doesn’t make  its own screens and much less OLED displays. Well, no it doesn’t but that wouldn’t necessarily stop the company from simply buying its OLED displays from someone who does mass-produce them. Apple already buys memory technology for its smartphones from other brands like Samsung and there are also rumors in place that Apple is working on an OLED iPhone 8 model whose displays would have to come from Samsung as well (the absolute world leader in OLED smartphone display manufacturing) if the company were going to manufacture units at the kind of volumes that are typical for new Apple phones. Thus, what’s so implausible about Apple also getting OLED TV displays from a rival brand, and then putting them in its own specially branded television model? Fans of Apple certainly wouldn’t care if the TV display came from Samsung or more credibly, LG (the world’s only real manufacturer of TV-sized OLED displays) as long as the TV they were buying was clearly an Apple brand gadget.

Finally, there’s the interesting fact that Apple has frequently shown itself to be slow when it comes to adoption of 4K UHD-related technologies or of really delivering something impressive for the accessory TV technology market. The highly outdated, strictly 1080p current version of the Apple TV is a big example of this and other devices such as Apple’s desktop computing machines have also been slow to come out with 4K screens. Given the company’s highly cultivated reputation for being at the cutting edge of consumer technology releases, it’s actually pretty believable to imagine Apple deciding to compensate for these previous moments of weakness by unveiling a full blown 4K OLED TV and surprising the heck out of the entire consumer tech market.

Of course, we’re just speculating on all of the above and considering how many awesome consumer tech rumors we’ve seen completely fall flat in the past, we definitely lean more towards this latest 4K OLED Apple TV “leak” being either a complete fake or a misrepresentation of some other Apple display product that’s in development. Furthermore, even if the images really are of an Apple TV it doesn’t mean that the device you see in them is going to see store shelves any time soon. Big tech companies regularly test all sorts of prototype devices that they never release to the consumer market for one reason or another. So in a rather amusing twist, the photos could well be of a real Apple 4K TV in a real test lab but without any chance of a product release.

Story by 4k.com

4 comments
 
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  • Hugh Massengill Eugene Oregon
    August 22, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Imagine being able to buy a 4K tv that has both a modem but also a router, and a comcast box. One could have one cable going to the set, and the clutter would be greatly reduced. Sure, each component would need to be detachable, but still, I look at the confusing mess that is my “cave”, and I love the idea of simplicity.
    One cable, one remote to rule them all…
    Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon

    Reply

  • MrSatyre
    August 23, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    More like implausible. http://mashable.com/2017/08/16/why-apple-not-selling-oled-tv/#7_CiI4zpSOqc

    As a former industry reference display manufacturer, I pity anyone who thinks they can break into the flagship display panel biz and make a profit.

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    • Stephen
      Stephen
      August 25, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      No of course, as I stated in the article itself, the idea is pure speculation and we doubt that there’s going to be any Apple OLED TV any time soon but the company is at least positioned to pull something like that off and still make a profit for a while. More so, it’ an interesting bit of hypothesizing.

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  • Daniel
    August 26, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Stephen, I agree with you. Its not likely Apple will enter the TV category just yet. I wouldn’t bet against them though. When they target a category, it seems they have a solid strategy to win. Maybe eventually Foxconn’s acquisition of Sharp Japan will enable capability to develop and build OLED panels for Apple. Currently though, Apple would need to enter into a partnership to buy from LG, much like Sony has done with their A1E offering.
    I’m sure Apple has the 4K OLED TV category on their roadmap. It’s not a question of if, its about when. Your correct the install base of loyal customers will not have an issue with purchasing a premium panel. Much to the dismay of all the other manufacturers that have felt the need to drop pricing to stay competitive. And when they enter the market – guaranteed they will be one of the only company’s to turn a profit.

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