Apple has had some insanely ambitious goals in regards to television. In fact, there have been two separate plans within the company involving strengthening their position in the television and broadcast worlds. Unfortunately for Apple, it turns out that this market might just be outside of their reach.
First has been the longest running inside joke in the tech world: the Apple television. This is different from the Apple TV, their set-top box that relies on outside content: this would be an Apple-branded television. The rumors surrounding this theoretical product have been around almost as long as the Apple TV itself, with new details popping up surrounding every product announcement event. It has never materialized, however.
Thanks to the usual "people familiar with the subject" and The Wall Street Journal, we not know that Apple had been working on this product. However, the company disbanded the team responsible over a year ago. While some people in the tech world find this a surprise, I most certainly do not, and here's why: televisions suck. No one loves their television, because they are mostly a transient technology. No one spends enough time with the television itself to have an attachment to it.
In addition, there is nowhere to innovate in the television space. You could improve the possible picture quality, but content will never catch up. 3D never did become a reality, and 4K content is still far from being available to the world, meaning those expensive 4K televisions are in reality REALLY expensive 1080p televisions. Smart televisions are a dime a dozen and yet, despite the easy access to these features, people still use their Xbox and PlayStation to access Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and the like. Why? Because televisions do not have the processing power to do it well.
The only way that Apple could have tried to accomplish something interesting in the television space is if they provided their own content, guaranteeing that your new 4K television had 4K content, for example. The problem there is, Apple is not a content company. They may be good at getting people to buy their patented rounded-corners, they do not produce anything real on a fixed schedule. Getting into producing content would be impossible, so partnering with other content providers would be their best bet. The problem there is that the content providers, it turns out, have no interest in talking with Apple about it at all.
The long-rumored streaming service appears to be shelved for the time being as well because of this. They believe that, in order to provide a full-functioned product, it would require live, local broadcasts from the Big 4. The Big 4 have made it very clear, though, that they have no interest in letting this happen, and Apple is no exception. So, for now, it appears that anyone waiting for any Apple-branded television products will have to draw their own logo on their existing televisions because nothing is coming soon.