Apple could be preparing to release the long-rumored Apple television as early as next year. The project is being led by the software engineer who developed iTunes, according to Bloomberg, citing people with knowledge of the project.

Jeff Robbin, who also helped create the iPod, is said to be leading Apple’s television effort. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster thinks that Apple already has a prototype in the works and could be prepared to launch a product late next year or sometime in 2013. Of course, Munster has been saying the same thing since 2009 so we should take that with a grain of salt.

Rumors of an Apple television set have occasionally surfaced over the past few years but thus far, nothing has materialized. That all changed recently as excerpts from Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Steve Jobs hit the Internet last week in anticipation of the book’s release earlier this week.

In the biography, the Apple co-founder told Isaacson that he wanted to create a television set that was integrated with Apple products and would be easy to use.

“It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

Coming directly from Jobs himself, there’s no denying that Apple is indeed interested in entering the television market, especially when he says "I finally cracked it." One could likely surmise that it’s now just a matter of time before we see such a device that’s ready for the living room.

But as CNET points out, technology likely isn’t what’s been holding Apple back. The current hurdle is getting all of the licensing in order from television and movie studios.