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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 17, 2012

New, Cable-Friendly Apple TV? Not This Year, Say Reports

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

In terms of Apple (News - Alert) rumors, one of the biggest has been the Apple-branded television, a big idea that may well have changed the face of television as we knew it. But a cable-friendly Apple TV box that could handle not only iTunes streaming, but also cable content? That was a little more within the realm of the feasible, for now.

Apple had been expanding its Apple-branded television service for some time now, elevating the system into the realm of Netflix and Hulu (News - Alert) Plus, sports systems, and even some Web content like that of the Wall Street Journal. But live television has proven much more elusive for Apple due to what Bloomberg (News - Alert) describes as a "tussle for control."

Basically there are two significant sticking points involved: one, there is an issue over who decides what the user interface looks like, and two, there is an issue on just how the devices are made available to consumers, whether they are sold directly to the consumer, as the Apple TV box currently is, or whether they must be leased from cable providers. It's a safe bet to figure which side is in favor of which approach, though there is nothing concrete as yet on this point.

Additionally, Apple had been having trouble previously with getting content, as content providers were balking at the idea of joining such a service, and were in some cases demanding cash up front for licensing arrangements.

But perhaps the most interesting development here is that Apple's television aspirations are well-received, on average, by consumers. A recent survey of Ars Technica readers suggested that 53.4 percent said that Apple was capable of giving TV an overhaul, while 31 percent figured another company could do the job better and 10 percent said there was no job to do, that TV was fine as it was.

Apple has already changed one major industry in the form of music, so suggesting that Apple could do likewise with television is simply rational. The big problem, clearly, is that the industry would rather not be changed, and is thus hesitant to deal with Apple on most any front. The question, of course, is whether any industry can last if Apple were to really decide to get firmly cranking. Since television is, right now, little more than a "hobby" for Apple, that may not actually happen. But the possibility is there all the same, and will pose an even more destabilizing element in an industry already prone to rapid change.

Want to learn more about how video is helping to transform the industry? Don’t miss Video World Conference & Expo, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at Video World Conference & Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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