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Amazon Fire TV should light a fire under Apple

It’s time for Apple’s TV offerings to move beyond the hobby stage, says analyst Gene Munster.

Apple TV Sarah Tew/CNET

The launch of Amazon's Fire TV is a sign that Apple needs to update its own set-top box and launch a full blown TV set. At least, that's the view of Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Rumors of an impending Apple television set have been floating about for years, but such a product has yet to debut. The current Apple TV is in need of an update to keep it competitive. With more players diving into the TV market, what's taking Apple so long to move forward?

In an investors note out yesterday, Piper Jaffray analyst and long-time Apple bull Gene Munster said he still thinks Apple could launch a television this year. But he acknowledged that even he's growing less confident of that forecast given no real indications of such a device from the supply chain.

Apple investors have already discounted the possibility of an Apple TV set in 2014, according to Munster. Instead, they believe that any new announcements this year will focus on updates to the Apple TV set-top box. Such investor skepticism is based on the lack of any concrete feedback from component suppliers, Munster said.

Still, the analyst hasn't given up all hope.

An Apple TV set could still pop up in 2014 -- a prediction Munster based on two factors. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that new product categories are in the works for this year. And recent reports say that Apple has been chatting with major cable companies about creating a more interactive experience for TV viewers.

Munster believes Apple could announce updates to Apple TV at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June and reveal a full television later in 2014. Of course, Munster and other analysts have been forecasting the launch of an Apple TV set for quite some time. Will 2014 be the year those forecasts finally come true?

"Given the breadth of content available on Amazon's offering in addition to gaming capability and voice control, two features we have expected from Apple TV, we believe that Apple will launch at least an updated Apple TV by the back half of 2014 if not sooner," Munster said. "We also continue to expect a full TV in 2014 as we view set-top boxes as an intermediary step between the ultimate vision of a television that is seamlessly integrated with online services and cable, but with an intuitive user experience."