iCloud-Powered Apple iTV Coming to Your Living Room by Mid-2012?Apple is developing a supplier relationship with Japan's Sharp for the production of OLED panels. But more than just the iPhone, iPod and iPad, Sharp may already be working on screens meant for an integrated Apple TV, which will show programs synced with iCloud.

Sharp is reportedly retooling its production lines to support a new type of screen -- amorphous TFT LCD panels -- which are reportedly meant for an Apple TV. Jefferies analyst Peter Misek tells investors that Sharp's production line in Sakai is getting ready for commercial production of said screens by February 2012.

The Next Big Thing From Apple

The so-called Apple iTV, an integrated, big-screen Apple TV has been rumored to be in the works since earlier this year, and was actually expected to be introduced alongside the latest iPhone 4S launch. But an Apple TV announcement did not happen, and Apple instead focused on an improved AirPlay for the iPad and iPhone. But an integrated Apple TV was actually one of the late Apple Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs' plans for Apple. In his biography, Jobs was said to have "cracked it," which could mean that Apple may have already found the best way to integrated Internet-based content with an integrated television set, with a user interface that could include other iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Evolution of TV?

Still, it's a mystery as to what exactly the rumored iTV will do, and what form it will take. The current Apple TV serves as a set-top box that pulls content from the Internet and synchronizes with compatible iOS devices. But with Sharp developing TV-sized screens for Apple, then the integrated TV approach might be plausible. Even so, Misek says that competing TV brands are likely to be scrambling to "identify what iTV will be and do." Mainstream TV makers will likely be caught flat-footed by Apple, and "are likely to be at least 6 to 12 months behind in a best-case scenario."

With iCloud already supporting TV show synchronization between iOS devices, an integrated Apple TV that can show such content on a bigger screen might be the next logical step for Apple, some observers say. Rumors about Apple's plans for TV will continue to pop up, but with a supplier supposedly developing the screen already, things are starting to unfold, which might give Apple fans, consumers and investors a better view of what Apple will come up with next.