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Foxconn chief weighs in on Apple television. Or not

The Apple supplier issues a denial to reports that CEO Terry Gou had said Foxconn was getting ready to produce the feverishly anticipated, but never yet announced, device.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Last updated: May 14 at 9:48 a.m. PT.

It seemed for a moment as if Foxconn chief Terry Gou had let slip that his company is getting ready to start producing an Apple television.

According to China Daily, Gou on Friday, May 11, held a news conference in Shanghai about his company's plans for the future. During that conversation, he seemed to indicate that Foxconn is currently preparing its facilities to start producing Apple's long-rumored television, though "development or manufacturing has yet to begin," the China Daily report said.

Gou's comments were notable for coming from a prominent executive who could be expected to have knowledge of Apple's plans. The vast majority of reports surrounding the development of the television have come from unidentified sources and analysts claiming insight into Apple's plans. For its part, Apple has stayed tight-lipped on any possibility that it might be working on a television.

But on Monday, May 14, Foxconn issued a definitive denial, in a statement provided to The Next Web:

At no time did [Gou] confirm that Foxconn was in development or manufacturing stages for any product for any of its customers. He did say that Foxconn is always prepared to meet the manufacturing needs of customers should they determine that they wish to work with Foxconn in the production of any of their products. Any reports that Foxconn confirmed that it is preparing to produce a specific product for any customer are not accurate.

There's been no end to the rumors, which have suggested, among other things, that a potential Apple television could be equipped with support for the company's virtual personal assistant Siri, a built-in camera for FaceTime, and access to the App Store.

Analysts have said for years that Apple is planning to launch a television, but it became a huge topic last year when Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson revealed that the company's co-founder had "cracked" the code for developing a user-friendly television.

"I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," Jobs told Isaacson. "It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Following that, Bloomberg reported, citing several sources, that Apple had enlisted its vice president of consumer applications, Jeff Robbin, to head up the team developing the television, though at that time, there was a chance it might have been shelved.

Following the reports Friday on Gou's comments, questions of when an Apple television might launch certainly seemed likely to intensify. Back in March, J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said that the company will likely launch its television in 2014, and not at the end of this year or next year, as many of his colleagues have claimed.

One other interesting note from Gou's comments Friday: Foxconn's recent decision to buy a chunk of Sharp's LCD TV factory in Sakai, Japan was the result of preparations it's making for Apple's upcoming television.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on Gou's claims. We will update this story when we have more information.

Update 6:30 a.m. PT on May 11 to include more details. Update 9:38 a.m. PT on May 14 to incorporate Foxconn's denial that Gou had made any kind of confirmation about any specific product potentially in the works.

(Via Apple Insider)