Yes, there was an Apple TV released in 2012 -- but it was just a slight refresh of Apple's venerable $99 video-streaming box -- a great gadget, to be sure, but not the game-changing television product that dominates the fantasies of the Apple faithful.
It's that "real" Apple TV -- a smart TV designed from the ground up by the wizards who developed the iPhone and iPad -- that's spawned a cottage rumor mill industry, with nary a week passing in 2012 without a new story from a tech blog, wire service, or (worst of all) an "analyst."
Everyone has an opinion on what the Apple TV should be: superthin OLED screen, Siri voice-controlled channel guide, every movie and TV show ever made on-demand. But the issue of content deals -- interfacing with cable systems, and perhaps creating a Netflix- or Hulu-style subscription-based video service -- are said to be a major reason the fabled product remains (presumably) relegated to Jony Ive's secret lab.
With Apple having refreshed nearly its entire product line late in 2012, look for Apple TV fever to only ramp up in 2013.