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Analyst: Apple TV launch is 'imminent'

Apple's new set-top box, or TV set -- or whatever the company's doing -- is just around the corner, says analyst firm Jefferies & Co.

Apple's current set-top box.
Apple's current set-top box.

Apple's plans to debut a TV set are just around the corner, according to a report.

In a note to investors today about cable technology company Arris Group, Jefferies & Co.'s James Kisner says the firm has heard rumblings from industry contacts that at least one major cable operator has been doing some tests to see if it can handle the extra bandwidth such a product might bring.

"...Our discussions with industry contacts suggest that at least one major North American multiple system operator is working to estimate how much additional capacity may be needed for a new Apple device on their broadband data network," Kisner writes, pointing to an October report the group did about data growth.

"We believe this potentially suggests an imminent launch of the Apple TV," he said, adding that the product would be a boon to Arris, which sells capacity to providers like Comcast.

Some of the forecasting for the kind of impact the device would have involves estimating that half of Apple TV owners will watch HD programs during peak hours on 5 Mbps streams. Jefferies has tallied up the kind of impact that would have on Arris if Apple sells anywhere from 5 million to 30 million Apple TV devices.

Reports have ping-ponged about Apple's television plans, painting the potential gadget as either a newer device that would aim to replace cable providers' set-top boxes, or a full-fledged TV set. Much of the speculation on the latter has centered on a mention by late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who told biographer Walter Isaacson that he wanted "to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," and that he "finally cracked it."

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrapping up the company's 2012 product line last month.
Apple CEO Tim Cook wrapping up the company's 2012 product line last month. James Martin/CNET

In the interim, Apple has put out three generations of its set-top boxes, which the company continues to refer to as a hobby, though one that's grown year over year.

As for the "imminent" bit, it's worth noting that Apple made a point to note that it's done with its product lineup for the year. At the end of the company's iPad Mini unveiling event last month, CEO Tim Cook ran through the various launches, calling it a "truly prolific year of innovation."

(Via Barrons)