New report details Apple’s vision for a set top cable box

Mon, Aug 20, 2012

News, Rumors

The Wall Street Journal a few days ago reported on Apple’s plans, tentative at the moment of course, to release a set-top box capable of running live programming along with an assortment of other content.

The Journal has since expanded on its initial report and adds some more detail to color in some of the specifics of the device which may or may not make it to market.

Apple Inc.’s vision for a new device that can be used as a set-top box includes features designed to simplify accessing and viewing programming and erase the distinction between live and on-demand content, people briefed on Apple’s plans said.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company proposes giving viewers the ability to start any show at any time through a digital-video recorder that would store TV shows on the Internet. Viewers even could start a show minutes after it has begun.

Some additional features Apple may include on this set-tob box include a user-interface akin to what we see on the iPad today along with room for social media features such as Twitter. Apple, the report notes, also is interesting in enabling iPhone and iPad users to access Television content from their devices.

Some of the features Apple has discussed are improvements, but not radical changes, to those already available. For instance, Apple wants viewers to be able to access all episodes of current seasons of TV shows, whereas existing video on demand services from cable operators generally often offer only a few episodes of a current season. Apple’s proposed device would also provide access to older seasons of shows, which are already available through Apple’s iTunes media store.

This all sounds great, but getting it to market is an entirely different matter completely. And while has reportedly approached various entertainment companies who own television content, this has to be deemed kosher to work along with many of the content deals already in place with various cable operators. That said, for Apple’s vision to come to fruition, there may have to be a whole slew of renegotiated contracts and the like. In short, this is a very tall order but as Tim Cook has said time and time again, Apple will continue to pull the strings and see where it takes them.

Indeed, one of the toughest challenges for Apple may be trying to convince cable operators to hop on board. They like their profits, and as opposed to the music industry of yore, they aren’t exactly looking for a savior. But at the same time, if Apple’s success with the iPhone has proven anything, it’s that getting into bed with Apple isn’t necessarily or always a bad thing.


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