Rumours of an Apple television continue to gain momentum, with the ever-present Digitimes reporting the next-generation TV will arrive in the second quarter of 2012.

The website also reports that Sharp will be producing displays for 32 and 37-inch models, and that Samsung Electronics started producing chips for the televisions in November.

"The supply chain of Apple will start preparing materials for iTV sets in the first quarter of 2012 in order to meet Apple's schedule to launch the new display products in the second or third quarter of 2012," Digitimes said.

Further reports from Digitimes claim that the Apple televisions will be manufactured - as the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 are - by Foxconn, while Forbes reported on a research note suggesting that Apple may be set to launch its own 'à la carte' live television service.

Shaw Wu, an analyst for Sterne Agree, claims that offering such a television service would "give AAPL [Apple] a big leg-up against the competition."

Wu continues: "Hardware and technology are not the issues holding back Apple from releasing a television set. Instead, Apple must negotiate unique contest deals that will allow the company to differentiate its products from other televisions on the market."

Rumours of an Apple television - offering more than the current Apple TV set-top box - have circulated for some time, but gained momentum after Steve Jobs was quoted in his biography by Walter Isaacson as saying he'd "cracked" the television model, adding that "it would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices with iCloud."

Isaacson went on to claim that Jobs and Apple had designed an all-new television capable of offering "the simplest user interface you could imagine."

This 'simple user interface' is widely reported to be heavily reliant on Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant debuted on the iPhone 4S earlier this year.

Microsoft uses voice and hand gestures to control its Xbox 360 games console with Kinect, so it would be entirely plausible that Apple would go down a similar route with its new television.