Apple needs 22% of TV set market to stay on top

Apple needs new features and content to separate it from the television pack, research firm says

Apple rose to the top of the ranks of the Fortune 50 on the success of the iPod, iPhone, iPad and MacBook, but to continue being a market leader, it needs new products.

Of the two products that Apple is believed to be working on -- a smart watch and a television -- a flat-screen TV has the potential to add billions in revenue to Apple's bottom line, according to a report from U.K.-based Generator Research.

The report predicts that Apple should be able to garner about 22% of the TV set market over the next 10 years.

Apple's market capitalization is around $473 billion. In order to maintain a market valuation approaching its market cap, Apple needs new products.

"Unless you make completely crazy assumptions about how fast sales of the iPhone and iPad will rise... then the only way you can get to a valuation that is close to the company's market capitalization is to assume that Apple will launch new products -- products that do not exist," Andrew Sheehy, a chief analyst with Generator Research, wrote in the report.

Sheehy said achieving a 22.2% television set market share by 2023 is less than what the company has already managed with the iPhone.

That 22% market share would translate into 72 million television units worth about $81 billion in revenue, Sheehy added. By comparison, Generator Research predicts a smart watch from Apple would achieve about $40 billion in revenue by 2020, and would level off after that.

Apple revenue chart
Apple's worldwide revenue projection (Source: Generator Research).

In 2015, Apple's television unit sales would be around $2 million, representing a 0.7% share of total worldwide flat panel TV set shipments. However, shipments would then grow to reach 15 million in 2017 (4.9% market share) and 72 million units in 2023 (22.2% market share), according to Generator Research.

A market in turmoil

The global TV set market is expected to see its second consecutive annual decline in 2013 due to a slowdown in replacement and secondary purchases, according to Veronica Gonzalez-Thayer, an analyst with IHS Electronics & Media.

For Apple to attain a significant share of the TV market, the company would have to create demand through a unique product so that consumers would be willing to replace their existing sets or buy an additional one.

"Still, we would expect for this television to sell for a premium price, which could become an obstacle for Apple since the TV market is extremely price sensitive and has been suffering from declining margins for a few years," Gonzalez-Thayer wrote in in an email reply to Computerworld.

The television market is shifting from one dominated by Japanese companies, such as Sony, to South Korean companies, such as Samsung, Generator's report states.

"And in spite of assurances to the market that better times are ahead, Sony's TV set business continues to operate at a loss -- as has been the case for the last 8 years," Sheehy wrote in the report.

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