What we know: Not a whole lot. According to a report this week from The Wall Street Journal, the group in charge of Intel’s (INTC) TV strategy, dubbed Intel Media, is run by Erik Huggers, a corporate VP who once worked for the BBC and Microsoft (MSFT). A set-top box may be in the works touting speech and face recognition, as well as social features, making for more of a “shared experience” with multiple users. Intel’s also kicking around an idea called the “virtual operator,” which would basically offer TV channels in Internet bundles similar to the way they’re offered today.
ETA: Originally end of 2012, but that proved about as accurate as the Mayan apocalypse. Now? Anywhere from mid-2013 to end-of-the-year. In other words: unclear.
What we know: The rumors just won’t die. What we do know is Apple (AAPL) is certainly cooking up something there. Tim Cook just about hinted as much in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams at the end of last year. “When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook said. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.” Confirmation? Not quite. But as close as a “yes” as we’ll probably ever get from a company that also recently admitted it’s doubling down on secrecy when it comes to product development. And what that TV device/service will ultimately look like is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’ll be an actual TV set designed by Jony Ive & Co. with an inventive software interface to rival its inevitably slick physical appearance.
There are certainly no shortage of fanboy mock-ups in that area. (See here or here.) “We expect the beauty of the design to be a feature, but the most important feature will be the ability to use the TV as the main interface for the living room across multiple devices,” writes Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster in a report this week. Munster thinks the TV will include Siri and FaceTime features but not unbundled channels. Fortune even took a crack at coming up with 11 features the Apple TV must have.
ETA: Munster expects such a device could arrive this November in time for the holiday season, priced somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 with screen sizes in the 42″-55″ range. If he’s right, three words: start saving now.