Post-biography speculation puts a date on Apple television

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Comments by Steve Jobs released by biographer Walter Isaacson have renewed speculation that Apple is planning to launch an integrated standalone TV set, perhaps as soon as next year.

Bloomberg today reported that Jeff Robbin – the software engineer responsible for the iTunes media store – is believed to have been enlisted to the project, which may reach the market by late next year or 2013. Apple has declined to comment.

Before he died on October 5, Apple co-founder Jobs told Isaacson he had “finally cracked” how to build an integrated TV with a simple user interface that would wirelessly synchronise content with Apple’s other devices.

Robbin’s involvement is seen as a sign of Apple’s commitment to extending its leadership in smartphones and tablets into the living room, and could put Apple head-to-head with tablet and smartphone rivals Samsung and

Bloomberg quotes Piper Jaffray Cos analyst Gene Munster that Apple has a prototype TV in the works and may introduce a product for sale by late next year or 2013. He based that timing on meetings with contacts close to Apple’s suppliers in Asia, industry contacts and Apple’s patent portfolio.

Bloomberg says Munster said Apple also is investing in manufacturing facilities and securing supplies of LCD screens.

Its Siri voice-command software iCloud storage service could also have a role in the development.

Bloomberg says Apple could sell 1.4 million TVs next year, out of a total market of about 220 million flat-panel sets – worth $6 billion in revenue to the company by 2014.

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