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Apple’s rumored iTV ‘the biggest thing since the smartphone,’ says analyst

Few people on this planet currently know whether Apple plans to release its own television set. And Piper Jaffray’s in-house Apple analyst Gene Munster claims to be one of them. During a recent interview with Bloomberg Radio, Muster said that an Apple television is not only real, it will be “the biggest thing… since the smartphone.”

“Apple Television is real,” said Munster. “I think it’s going to be the biggest thing in consumer electronics since the smartphone came out. The biggest thing in five years. Based on some of the things we’re hearing about it, I think it’s going to live up to some of the building hype.”

Moreover, Munster claims that the Apple television (speculatively called “iTV”) will look completely different from the televisions we’re used to. “It will look different,” he said. “Imagine just kind of a sheet of glass, is kind of what the look would be. There wouldn’t be edges or bevels on it.”

When asked whether the mythical device will have the Siri voice-controlled artificial intelligence technology found in the iPhone 4S, Munster said that Siri would only be part of the user interface equation. The other way will likely be a traditional TV remote of some sort.

“I think voice is going to be one of the ways you can [control the iTV],” says Munster. “But a lot of people are still couch potatoes and enjoy just sitting surfing their channel guide. And I think Apple will still allow you to do that. This isn’t something that you have to sit down and know exactly what you want.”

So, how much of Munster’s predictions should you take seriously? None of it. Okay, maybe all of it. Or just some of it. Thing is, nobody — not you, not us, not Munster — know for certain what Apple will or will not release. And remember, the iTV rumor was more or less started by Munster, who, all the way back in March of 2010, wrote that Apple’s next big market SHOULD be the TV market. Not that it will be, but that it should be. This is based on Munster’s calculations that Cupertino could generate an additional $5.2 billion from TV sales in 2013, and up to $7.6 billion in 2014.

Given the amount of chatter we’ve heard about a so-called iTV, it would be a surprise if Apple doesn’t release the rumored device at all. But that doesn’t mean it will, even if there’s supposedly money to be made. If Munster’s right, however, we’ll have our answer by the end of this year.