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back to article Apple seeks cable connection for set-top box

Apple is in talks with US cable TV companies about licensing the technology it would need to feed their services in through the back of its Apple TV set-top box. The claim that the Mac maker is eyeing the US cable market comes from the Wall Street Journal. The paper suggests an Apple TV with a suitable cable connector and on- …

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Bronze badge
Meh

hmmmm....

"It's not hard to see Apple incorporating digital TV tuners into the Apple TV for territories, such as the UK, and perhaps satellite broadcasting feeds too."

Not much scope for partnering in Blighty. With Virgin (With TiVO) practically the only cable game in town and Sky (with their own interface) wrapping up satellite, I doubt they'll gain much success, unless they look at offering Freesat/Freeview capabilities, in which case, it's just another Freeview tuner.

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Re: hmmmm....

Don't be so sure about Sky - they're already pushing the streaming portion to a variety of non-sky devices (read iPad, iPhone, and a select few other devices), all be it with their branding - I don't see as much of a step in the other direction to allow Apple (with their legion of fanboi's and girlz) to work with them to develop a secure broadcast receiver. Plus, it is appealing for big A as most of the UK population can receive Sky. Plus with SkyNewsFoxCorp being the rights holders to many programmes made or shown in the UK, they'll have less of a hard time agreeing terms for this 'new' option. The rubbing points will be if Cupertino want to take a large % of any dues paid (likely) and the war over the interface.

Virgin on the other hand - I wonder if the "relative" low number of subscribers (vs all of the other European providers) would make it uneconomical for Apple to develop for. I guess they would have to look at the performance of US based cable providers and see how well Apple TV3 usurped existing TiVO subscriber numbers before committing any development time. And once again, it comes down to cost vs benefit AND if the rights holders can come to an agreement.

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WTF?

Re: hmmmm....

No, it'll be a Freeview tuner capable of running all the TV-related apps that currently run on iPads etc. This could seriously challenge YouView, and would be streets ahead of boxes that so far offer iPlayer, maybe Netflix, but not much else.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple-branded TV

IMHO - There won't be an Apple branded integrated TV. There's no money in TVs. No profit margins, too many screen sizes (SKUs), too much space in the Apple Store, etc.

An AppleTV plugged into a 3rd party dumb screen will do the job, for both Apple and the customers, with a much higher % profit

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Joke

@ FatsBrannigan - Re: Apple-branded TV

Ah, almost right, but you forgot an important factor:

The price of an iTV will be much higher and thus it will have an acceptable margin.

Also, Apple will have almost a monopoly on TV reception equipment, because,

in the future, they will have invented it in the past.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple-branded TV

The only reason an Apple TV was any use for me, was after it was jailbroken. Then it would connect to local non-apple file shares, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple-branded TV

Some people don't want separate boxes. Some people don't want separate remotes.

If you think of it as merely a TV then yes it isn't worth it. But if it does happen (and it's just a rumour) then you can bet it will shake up the market a bit, the "smart" TVs I have tried are rather cumbersome and the interfaces rather clunky (Samsung).

Personally I have no interest in it.

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Paris Hilton

Oops

I read the article involving "Apple" and "cable" and though "hmm, probably be a proprietary overpriced one that has a standards adapter for £30"

Then realised it was about cable services, and not Apple coming up with a new cable.

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Facepalm

Re: Oops

I honestly thought they were about to patent the HDMI cable...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oops

Would that be a iHDMI cable?

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FAIL

Bit late in the game...

It's not like apple to copy the designs of android.

Thinking of Sumvision Cyclone or similar

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FAIL

Why on earth would you want to pay over the top rpice for an Apple television ?

Everything in one box means if one bit breaks down it impossible to fix without all of it going away.

At least with a STB if it breaks down you still have the tv and vice versa.

On top of that most tv's now come wit freeview or freeview HD built in so where's the bonus going for an apple tv box?

As for Sky/Virgin neither will play all without a lot of access to the tech on security etc plus having their own cards in the box so that it will need more than one slot just for common access as Sky won't allow common access cards with their encryption to be produced.

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jai
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Re: Why on earth would you want to pay over the top rpice for an Apple television ?

yes, but Apple kit "just works" so you don't have worry about anything breaking

;)

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Re: Why on earth would you want to pay over the top rpice for an Apple television ?

Yeah, cus laptops don't sell very well do they?

This is the age where people don't really want clutter, cables everywhere etc. They want to hang a TV on the wall and have one or two cables going to it.

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Re: Why on earth would you want to pay over the top rpice for an Apple television ?

The benefit of having an Apple TV would be that you don't have loads of boxes attached to your screen, you don't have loads of different remotes to control them, and you don't have to navigate lots of completely different, confusing interfaces to use them.

There are lots of people who would switch from Virgin to Sky or vice versa if only one of them offered the Apple TV. You shouldn't underestimate the potential for extra customers.

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Re: Why on earth would you want to pay over the top rpice for an Apple television ?

Why? Same reason as people pay for B&O televisions - style and build quality.

Plus, no doubt, an excellent UI and good reliability.

My Samsung TV comes with built in FreeView and an unusable interface (pretty icons on the menus though). My Humax PVR has an interface that is very slow and clunky compared to my Sky+ box (and I need my reading specs to see the pesky words on the remote). In fact, if Apple do make an iTV, I'd probably buy it just for the UI.

Just because Sky won't allow a CAM to be developed for their services, don't extend that to 'Sky won't allow anyone to create a Sky box' - look at Amstrad, Panasonic, Grundig, Sky boxes, etc. They are more likely to be concerned at losing control over the EPG and UI than worrying about Apple building in the decryption.

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Re: Why on earth would you want to pay over the top rpice for an Apple television ?

OK, 1 mains lead and 1 lead from the STB, no need for Ariel cable or ethernet lead etc as well......

And WTF do laptops have to do with it ? They are single user devices not family watching together devices.

Kids couldn't care less if daddy's laptop goes tits up, but watch them scream if the telly dies.......

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Re: Why on earth would you want to pay over the top rpice for an Apple television ?

"yes, but Apple kit "just works" so you don't have worry about anything breaking"

You know it's a TV don't you? I had a monster sized Zenith, the cabinet not the tube, that lasted for 25+ years and it just worked the whole time. Hell even the ultrasonic remote control just worked the whole time. It would probably work today if not for stupid movers, their ability to drive and pack a truck; I'll also add that no TV would survive what they did.

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g e
Silver badge
Meh

But why?

Surely all the cable operators have deals in place with their preferred box providers, or is it more of a choose-your-own-box thing in the USA?

In the UK you order Virgin cable, it comes with a Virgin box. You order SKY intertubage and it comes with a SKY router, etc. SKY satellite is encrypted and hence uses the SKY box plus your card.

Unless it's a free-for-all in the US I don't see why it'd be in the cableco's interests to allow a third party access to the service feed, ultimately losing some control of the end to end provision ?

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Thumb Up

Re: But why?

Have a read up on the US CableCARD federal mandate which allows non cable company provided devices to access their networks. The Cable companies arn't very happy about it, but, in this instance, the US media regulators have acted sensibly and with a decent set of cojones.

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g e
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Re: But why?

Ahhh right, tnx for that!

Something new every day :o)

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Re: But why?

Yep, this is purely a US thing, but it's a pretty big market.

While TV tuners have been around for years, the first CableCard tuner only turned up a little over 2 years ago - the Ceton InfiniTV has 4 tuners, and when installed in a Windows7 machine with Windows Media Center allows the user to record up to 4 shows at a time from cable, including "premium" channels, such as HBO and ShowTime.

Even at the initial price of $400, paying $3/month for a cable card instead of a $20 for the cable companies DVR made it a pretty popular option - there was a waiting list for at least the first 6 months after the device was finally available. By now, the price is down to $150 on sale, and SiliconDust and Hauppage also have Cablecard tuners available, and Ceton are promising new extenders by the end of the year.

Because most Cable providers encrypt most of their content, you can't use the Tuners with MythTV or Sage - because Microsofts PlayReady DRM has been clears by CableLabs. MediaCenter gets access to the content, and re-encrypts it on disk as required.

At least in part due to the popularity of these Tuners, in the last 12 months the FCC has required that the Cable Companies support User-Installed cable cards (no mandatory $90 "installation fee" for that $3 cable card, which was very common for the early adopters).

An AppleTV box with a Tuner and a 1TB hard drive (not much point having a DVR with less than that) will probably need to retail for $300-$350. With access to iOS apps and easy "screencasting" to iDevices, it could be a very popular option. Replace a single cable-company DVR and you could pay for this within 18-months to 2 years, with additional functionality.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But why?

Set the TV up so it just acts as a dumb screen for the box, plug the TV's power lead into the software controlled power outlet on the box, and, voila - one Apple remote controls everything

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Unhappy

Saying goodbye to my millions

But an Apple Television could just be a 40" screen with wifi or powerline built in. Clean lines and one cable (for power).

The Apple iTV then sits in a cupboard and serves up whatever flavour of service you want via apps and "HDMI over WiFi" (possibly powerline). Users control the lot from ipad/pod/phone over bluetooth.

This allows Apple to gatekeep Netflix, cable, Sky and even Youview; your PS3 could be plugged in to the iTV , keeping a screen with one cable as the 'face' of the TV.

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Silver badge
Joke

They could contact that new network...

... that's being deployed by Google.

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Boffin

Flies in the ointment

Since SDV means you need the TA that works with your particular cableco's head end, there goes the "just one box" idea.

And having to screw around with your cableco to get cablecards means there goes "it just works".

Although if Apple could force an industry standard slot for a plug in TA, or better yet, an industry standard slot for a plug in "one module does everything the cable company needs done", that might be pretty close to "just works", and other aftermarket set tops like TiVo could incorporate it in future products as well.

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Re: Flies in the ointment

The TA just sends a signal back to the headend - a task that could be done by an IP packet from a smart device instead. Getting that to work isn't particularly hard. Getting it to work everywhere is a bit harder, but TAs are expensive, and getting rid of them would actually be in the cable companies best interest.

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