Tough to tackle television market could delay Apple TV product

Ashleigh Allsopp
7 September, 2012
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Apple’s big venture into the television market could be delayed by difficult negotiations with media companies and cable providers.

Bloomberg cites a “person familiar with [Apple’s] plans,” who claims that Apple won’t be releasing its rumoured living room conquering product until 2013 because providers have “little incentive to cede valuable revenue streams.”

“It’s not a nice, simple, easy story that Apple is going to come in and turn the world upside-down and we’re all going to live happily ever after,” said cable industry expert and analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein Craig Moffett. He thinks that the idea that Apple will launch a TV system in the near future, maybe even at the 12 September event that Apple announced this week, “ignores the business realities that make this such a complicated industry.”

Apple is not alone in trying to enter the television market. Other tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are said to be trying to make deals with media companies and providers.

One of the main problems for companies in coming to an agreement is that TV providers are against giving technology companies control over the television’s user interface, Bloomberg reports. “It’s a tough problem because the cable companies and media companies are not very enthusiastic about the prospect of Apple creating a better user interface,” Walter Price, an investor with RCM Capital Management, told Bloomberg.

In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is working on an advanced set-top-box with an iOS-like interface and cloud-based DVR functionality that would erase the distinction between live and on-demand TV.

Agreeing with WSJ, Bloomberg says: “Since the middle of the last decade, Apple’s engineers have been working on a more advanced product to allow viewers to quickly find shows and movies, blending both live and recorded material.”

“It would recommend content based on interests and work seamlessly with Apple’s family of other devices,” Bloomberg’s sources claim. “An iPhone or iPad would double as a remote control.”

Two former Apple managers told Bloomberg that Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs believed that unless the company could get more content and live broadcasting, Apple’s impact on television wouldn’t be disruptive.

According to the report, Apple is closest to making a deal with Time Warner Cable Inc, which could become its first partner to release the product in just a few regions in the US rather than a national launch.

Although declining to speak specifically about Apple, a Tim Warner Cable representative told Bloomberg: “Unlike other distributors, we are not religiously wedded to absolutely controlling the user interface.”

There’s no word yet about the estimated arrival of Apple’s television product in Australia, but it’s likely that it could be a significant time after the US launch.

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