Apple hasn’t announced — or even hinted at — plans for a branded HDTV (the widely rumored “iTV”), but a recent survey shows it could be a hit if it does indeed arrive.

The Strategy Analytics Connected Home Devices (CHD) advisory service (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) shows that nearly half of existing iPhone users would be very or somewhat likely to buy an Apple iTV soon after its launch. The report, “Apple’s Smart TV: Assessing Purchase Intention and Willingness to Pay,” provides results from the latest Strategy Analytics ConsumerMetrix survey of 6000 consumers across the US, France, Germany, Italy and the UK, fielded in March 2012.

“Although the details of a possible Apple smart TV are still unknown, existing Apple customers clearly demonstrate strong interest,” says Jia Wu, director and report author. “Meanwhile, consumers are still sensitive to price, even if Apple does launch another groundbreaking product. The success of an Apple iTV hinges on Appleā€™s ability to match innovation with appropriate price points.”

Apple, traditionally reliant on high device margins, would be challenged to find the right price/demand balance for an iTV. While 35% of surveyed US consumers indicate willingness to pay US$1m000 or more for an Apple-branded TV, only 14% would be willing to pay any more than $1600.

“Samsung, Sony, LG and other major TV manufacturers are most threatened by the prospect of an Apple iTV launch,” notes Strategy Analytics analyst Kantideep Thota. “More than one-quarter of non-Apple TV owners could potentially migrate to an Apple-branded TV in a fairly short period of time.”

My take: Apple will launch an iTV later this year or early next year. However, at least initially it will cost upwards of $1,600.

— Dennis Sellers