Apple-branded TV hits the rumor mill

It looks like Apple may be trying to do for TV sets what Google has so far only wished it could do.

According to the latest reports, Apple has been placing numerous orders for components and supplies used in the manufacturing of TV sets.

So not surprisingly, a lot of people are heading to the assumption that Apple may be preparing to launch its own TV, and it could be ready as early as the end of 2012.

Of course, this isn’t the first foray into the boob tube that Apple has undertaken. It currently offers the Apple TV, a set-top box that connects to any brand of TV and allows users to stream their iTunes and other content across the living room.

But for some reason, that magical box that captivates so many Americans has been a really tough nut to crack. Apple’s first iteration of the Apple TV was an uncharacteristically huge flop, and Google’s flagship TV operating system has fared no better.

So what could Apple do to make everyone’s favorite consumer electronic more exciting? Can you imagine turning on your TV and the first thing you see is a giant iOS interface with apps to direct you to live TV, games, Netflix, etc?

For most, it seems like adjusting the way a TV works just won’t fly. They want to turn on the TV and sit back. From day one it has been a passive experience. Getting consumers to look at their TV as a living room computer of sorts, where it requires constant user interaction, has been a herculean task.

However, things have slowly been shifting in that direction. Most new TV models now have some sort of Internet connectivity so users can watch Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, etc, without needing any sort of external device like a game console or set-top box. There’s no data on how many people who buy a new TV actually take the time to plug in an Ethernet cable or set up a wireless broadband connection, though.

Building an Apple-branded TV set would be one of the biggest risks Apple has ever attempted, but if there’s one company that has a history of risks paying off, that would be it.