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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 30, 2014

Apple Could Be Getting TV Tuner Integration, Wi-Fi

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

A refreshed Apple (News - Alert) TV offering is a component of the 2014 product roadmap, according to sources.

Apple is reportedly mulling some different technology reboots for the device, which for now remains a standalone set-top box (STB) that streams iTunes content as well as content from other “iDevices (News - Alert)” via the Airplay capabilty. So far the palm-sized gadget has been a niche gadget that mainly sweetens the pot for Apple’s electronic sell-through (EST) business, by offering a way for users to watch TV shows and movies purchased from iTunes on the big screen. But Apple also offers access to over-the-top (OTT) options like Netflix, Hulu (News - Alert) Plus, HBO GO, YouTube and Vevo; and third parties have embraced it as well. Sling Media announced back in October that Apple TV owners could stream live TV content via the Slingbox app for iPhone (News - Alert) and iPad.

Inside sources have now told 9 to 5 Mac that Apple is mulling the integration of AirPort Express into Apple TV, including its own 802.11ac wireless router. It would be unnecessary for households that already have a Wi-Fi router attached to their ISP modem, but for those that don’t, the combo could be an attractive one.

9 to 5 Mac speculated that the onboard router could be used as a gatekeeper, delivering peak video performance for the Apple TV streams and “de-prioritizing other wireless traffic as necessary.”

The blog also reported that Apple has been testing an Apple version that has a built-in TV tuner component—presumably, for receiving over-the-air (OTA) signals from local broadcast stations along with cable QAM channels. This would make it into an all-in-one cord-cutting kit of course—setting it up to take on pay-TV providers head-on.

Apple has also been said to be approaching cable companies to form a TiVo (News - Alert)-like alliance with them to provide the user interface for next-gen pay-TV, so the “built-in TV tuner” language could also refer to pay-TV integration capabilities.

While we wait to see if a new iteration of Apple TV comes to market or not, Apple is beefing up its embrace of the Apple TV offering in general, which indicates that it’s prepping some kind of strategic move. It has added an entire Apple TV section to the Apple Online Store for the first time. Previously, it was categorized as an “accessory.” The section has a range of sub-sections, including: promoted and dedicated accessories, AppleCare, refurbished, and community Q&As. 


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