Apple Wants to Make Apple TV Everyone’s Set Top Cable Box

Could mean that Apple is thinking differently towards content delivery

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

It’s being reported that Cupertino has been having talks with cable companies about incorporating their cable services onto the Apple TV box, making what Steve Jobs referred to as a “hobby technology” the central entertainment hub of pay TV.  Huh?  Someone needs to remind Tim Cook that Apple TV is popular because it ISN’T cable!

 “The problem with the television market, innovation in the television industry is that the television industry has a subsidized set top box and that quashes the industry because no one is willing to buy a set top box,” says Steve Jobs. “So all you can do is add a box to the system, and you end up with a table full of remotes.  The only way it’ll ever change is if you go back to square one and tear up the existing box and redesign in a way that people are willing to pay for it.  The TV is going to lose until there’s a viable go to market strategy.”

Steve Jobs’ main complaint about creative a streaming option for television is that broadcast is very “balkanized,” and there’s no way to get a one size fits all set top box to market as a result.  But it may be that the iOS UI is about to be the Rosetta Stone of the industry as new Apple CEO Tim Cook is looking to get cable companies on board with adding streaming options to the AppleTV.  Is it really as simple as offering “apps” for the right cable network?

Jobs also felt that with a heavily subsidized set top box market, where cable companies either rent the box or give it away for free, users would be far less likely to buy a dedicated box that would replace their freemium option.  It may be why he always considered Apple TV a “hobby project.”  But then again, before he died, he told Walter Issacson that he finally “cracked” the TV problem.  Everyone assumed that he was referring to Apple creating a smart LCD HDTV that would handle all of it and would be functional and fashionable as only an Apple iTV could be.  But in the speech at D8 before he died, he was talking about a one size fits all user interface which would be very difficult for all cable and satellite companies to embrace.

But if Apple has finally “cracked it,” as Jobs boasted in his official biography, then it would make sense to get all companies in line and on board to the Apple TV now, before an iTV would be available to market.  And it certainly helps that after a six year wait, Apple has finally been granted a patent for turning AppleTV into a streaming cable box:

The patent application, originally filed Oct. 12, 2006, has mock ups of screenshots with various TV programing, including CBS, ABC, FOX, and HBO… Another screenshot shows a list of recorded shows. The patent applications also has images of search and browse functions, so it seems like the new features will be fully integrated with the old system.

And while Jobs was right that users would tend to not want to buy the cow, when they get the milk for free, set top streaming boxes are very popular.  And the AppleTV has sold well over 1 million copies to date.  And pay television is scrambling to get users to stay pay customers, since many more are “cutting the cable” and freeing themselves from every higher monthly cable bills.  Could AppleTV do for television what iTunes did for the music industry?  It certainly could if it was build into a cool looking LCD.

To hear what Jobs said about such a feat at D8, click here for a video.

Souce: iMore

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.

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