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Apple TV set may not launch until 2014, says analyst

Despite recent buzz over an impending Apple TV set, J.P. Morgan doesn't except a full-blown version of the product to pop up anytime soon.

Will we have to wait another two years for an Apple television?
Will we have to wait another two years for an Apple television?

Consumers waiting for a TV set from Apple may have to sit tight for a couple more years.

Apple won't launch any type of TV this year, says J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz. Instead, the company is likely to build up to such a product in two separate phases.

First, Apple would expand its current TV box by launching a more advanced set-top module sometime in 2013 at the earliest. Then the company could unveil a full-blown TV with a display and speakers in 2014 or later, the analyst said in a research note released today.

Why no Apple TV sooner than 2014? Moskowitz doesn't think the company would turn enough of a profit in the market as it currently stands.

"We believe that the economics of the TV industry are strained, despite there being suitable offerings from the likes of Sony, Sharp, and Samsung," the analyst said. "Overall, we would be surprised to see Apple enter a new market unless the value proposition could support double-digit operating margins. In TVs, that bogey is rather elusive, in our view."

Further, for customers to shell out money for a pricey Apple TV, the typical user interface would have to be redesigned, TV programs and digital content would need to be better integrated, and voice and gesture controls would have to be part of the package.

"Until such time, we are skeptical that end customers would be willing to pay the Apple premium for a TV," Moskowitz added. "Despite our current skepticism, we think that if any company can radically alter the TV landscape, it is Apple."

So, what might Apple focus on next?

The company could finally dive into the world of mobile payments, aka near-field communications.

Moskowitz believes Apple may unveil a mobile payment system, which J.P. Morgan has dubbed "iPay." Such a system would tap into NFC-enabled smartphones and tablets to let Apple users pay for goods and services on the go.

So far, the necessary NFC hardware has popped up in Android phones and is slated for a variety of other devices. Apple has been typically mum about whether it might adopt the mobile payments technology, but reports have suggested the next iPhone could include NFC. Apple has filed a patent application that would let iTunes users send purchases as gifts through NFC or e-mail, according to Patently Apple.