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Apple's rumored set-top cable box won't make 2012 debut, report says

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Apple's attempts to be a power player in the TV market may be delayed until next year, as an insider familiar with the company's plans claims a rumored set-top box won't be unveiled in 2012.

Citing stalled talks with media companies and cable providers hesitant to let Apple get a foothold in the industry, the source told Bloomberg that no new TV-centric products will be coming out of Cupertino this year.

A report in August claimed Apple was in discussions with major cable operators to let consumers use a branded set-top box to view both live television and internet-based content. Key to the alleged product's success would be advanced cloud-based DVR capabilities that some say will blur the line between live and on-demand content. In particular, Apple is looking to store DVR content in the cloud, allowing users to start any show at any time.

According to people familiar with the ongoing negotiations, one of the main points of contention is control over the rumored device's user interface, which insiders say will use iOS icons similar to the current internet-connected Apple TV, rather than the much-maligned UIs seen on existing cable boxes. Apple is said to be making some progress with Time Warner Cable, though any proposed deal is far from being finalized.

?Unlike other distributors, we are not religiously wedded to absolutely controlling the user interface," said Time Warner COO Robert Marcus of the operator's existing UIs. He didn't specifically comment on Apple's plans.

Apple TV
Apple's current Apple TV is limited to streaming content. | Source: Apple


Entering the cable and broadcast TV markets is a tall order given established industry players don't want to see their power eroded by tech companies like Apple. In addition to friction with cable TV operators, Apple must convince cable subscribers to purchase a box directly instead of renting it from their provider. A similar tack was taken by TiVo, the third-party DVR with limited internet streaming capabilities that stores content on-site, but the device wasn't part of an integrated system and has seen limited success.

Apple is said to be focusing on cable operators that would allow access to live content without requiring new content agreements. This may prove a challenge since most media belongs to content providers, meaning Apple would need to negotiate with those companies separately. The company may be willing to make concessions, however, as another source said Apple is also investigating leasing the boxes through cable companies in place of the devices currently on offer.
post #2 of 23
Apple thinking that they can negotiate with cable companies is like Obama thinking that he can negotiate with republicans -- it ain't going to happen. the cable companies have a stranglehold on most people that they think is unbreakable. Apple needs to attack them from a different angle, which actually is what apple is doing with the existing apple tv product. But apple needs to step it up -- add apps to the apple tv and market the apple tv.

I've already given up cable tv altogether and rely totally on appleTV and other Internet sources for my "tv" entertainment. I suspect that there are a lot of other people who would be happy doing the same thing if they only better understood the options.
post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

Apple thinking that they can negotiate with cable companies is like Obama thinking that he can negotiate with republicans -- it ain't going to happen.
"Change" lol
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

Apple thinking that they can negotiate with cable companies is like Obama thinking that he can negotiate with republicans -- it ain't going to happen. the cable companies have a stranglehold on most people that they think is unbreakable. Apple needs to attack them from a different angle, which actually is what apple is doing with the existing apple tv product. But apple needs to step it up -- add apps to the apple tv and market the apple tv.
I've already given up cable tv altogether and rely totally on appleTV and other Internet sources for my "tv" entertainment. I suspect that there are a lot of other people who would be happy doing the same thing if they only better understood the options.

We did the same thing a year ago and have actually enjoyed TV far more.

The one bad thing for me is that the cable companies insist on a fully fledged cable contract to allow streaming of such things as the Olympics or CNN Live for example. As we move ever close to the time when all TV is via the Internet and on demand the cable companies have to start thinking about one off add on packages an Internet only client can purchase rather than insisting on a full cable TV contract.

As a FiOS internet only customer now, to be able to watch the Olympics while on vacation Verizon wanted to send technician to hook up TV at our home even though I explained I just wanted to have the service on the intent for our iPads while away from home. There was no service we could pay for that didn't include not hooking up the TV again, the very thing we'd chosen to give up a year ago.

The obvious solution was for NBC to have contracted with a company like Netflix or Apple. I would have happily paid a one off fee for the access just as some sports packages are available on Apple TV.
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
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post #5 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

We did the same thing a year ago and have actually enjoyed TV far more.
The one bad thing for me is that the cable companies insist on a fully fledged cable contract to allow streaming of such things as the Olympics or CNN Live for example. As we move ever close to the time when all TV is via the Internet and on demand the cable companies have to start thinking about one off add on packages an Internet only client can purchase rather than insisting on a full cable TV contract.
As a FiOS internet only customer now, to be able to watch the Olympics while on vacation Verizon wanted to send technician to hook up TV at our home even though I explained I just wanted to have the service on the intent for our iPads while away from home. There was no service we could pay for that didn't include not hooking up the TV again, the very thing we'd chosen to give up a year ago.
The obvious solution was for NBC to have contracted with a company like Netflix or Apple. I would have happily paid a one off fee for the access just as some sports packages are available on Apple TV.

If the coaxial cables were still hooked up and your TV had a digital tuner you could watch the network channels for free.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #6 of 23

It sounds like I am in the same boat as a few of you. We dumped cable TV about 3 years ago and use a combination of Netflix and an over the air antenna for our TV needs. We have a DVR setup on our iMac to record network shows that we want. It works well for us.

 

I would like to see the networks and cable companies open their eyes and realize that their old model is not going to work in the very near future. I am not sure that Apple's solution is the right one, but I feel strongly that the current model is dying before our eyes.

post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


If the coaxial cables were still hooked up and your TV had a digital tuner you could watch the network channels for free.

yep

 

i got rid of cable TV but my internet is through time warner and i get like 100 channels through the coax cable. all free. i was watching the game last night in HD

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


If the coaxial cables were still hooked up and your TV had a digital tuner you could watch the network channels for free.


This is interesting.  I had no idea this could work.  What about using TiVo in this type of setup?  As long as you pay the TiVo service fees would it be able to record correctly, or woulf the program information be incorrect?  Or actually, I guess you might still need a cable card if you have a TiVo premiere? 

post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


We did the same thing a year ago and have actually enjoyed TV far more.
The one bad thing for me is that the cable companies insist on a fully fledged cable contract to allow streaming of such things as the Olympics or CNN Live for example. As we move ever close to the time when all TV is via the Internet and on demand the cable companies have to start thinking about one off add on packages an Internet only client can purchase rather than insisting on a full cable TV contract.
As a FiOS internet only customer now, to be able to watch the Olympics while on vacation Verizon wanted to send technician to hook up TV at our home even though I explained I just wanted to have the service on the intent for our iPads while away from home. There was no service we could pay for that didn't include not hooking up the TV again, the very thing we'd chosen to give up a year ago.
The obvious solution was for NBC to have contracted with a company like Netflix or Apple. I would have happily paid a one off fee for the access just as some sports packages are available on Apple TV.

Yeah, there are definitely gaps in what you can do without cable TV, and that does kinda suck. I think a route for Apple to go here would be to skip as many middle men as possible and  start making deals with the content producers. For example, they should work out a deal directly with the NFL to get football games on the Apple TV. That might take a few years (until the NFL's existing TV contracts are up), but it eventually could be done. 

 

And of course apps -- with apps, a thousand flowers can bloom with small content providers skipping all middlemen and selling their creations directly to consumers. 

 

Without deals with big content or the cable companies, Apple can't come out with a slam dunk product. But they can continue nibbling away, expanding AppleTV capabilities, until one day, maybe 3 years from now, the cable/content guys wake up and realize that they have been completely circumvented. Then we'll see a bunch of hand wringing about how they should have made deals with Apple back when they still could. 

post #10 of 23

Some of you might remember the days when Ma Bell controlled the telephone network, including being the only supplier of telephones. This slowly changed with third-party vendors being able to sell telephones that legally could connect to the telephone wire. Then came wireless handsets and even though you can buy an AT&T-branded handset, I would guess that 99% of the people buy theirs from places like Costco, Best Buy, Fry's, Target, and Walmart. It's already partially been done with internet access where many people purchase their own cable modems not to mention wireless routers. Except for DSL modems, I see cable companies simply supplying third-party modems they don't control (no special software). Apple is trying to force the same evolution with cable companies, relegating them to ONLY providing the "wire" instead of the entire package. I would much rather see cable companies removed from supplying content, allowing customers the option of purchasing content from any source. This could ultimately most the customer more but would also provide the customer with the content they really want instead of a ton of extra channels that many never watch. Let the home shopping network customers pay for their fix and let me pay for mine. Will this ever happen? Maybe not for many years but it's the direction I'd like to see and one that isn't entirely out of the question.

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

Some of you might remember the days when Ma Bell controlled the telephone network, including being the only supplier of telephones. This slowly changed with third-party vendors being able to sell telephones that legally could connect to the telephone wire. Then came wireless handsets and even though you can buy an AT&T-branded handset, I would guess that 99% of the people buy theirs from places like Costco, Best Buy, Fry's, Target, and Walmart. It's already partially been done with internet access where many people purchase their own cable modems not to mention wireless routers. Except for DSL modems, I see cable companies simply supplying third-party modems they don't control (no special software). Apple is trying to force the same evolution with cable companies, relegating them to ONLY providing the "wire" instead of the entire package. I would much rather see cable companies removed from supplying content, allowing customers the option of purchasing content from any source. This could ultimately most the customer more but would also provide the customer with the content they really want instead of a ton of extra channels that many never watch. Let the home shopping network customers pay for their fix and let me pay for mine. Will this ever happen? Maybe not for many years but it's the direction I'd like to see and one that isn't entirely out of the question.

Sounds good to me. Breaking up Ma Bell took government intervention -- we'll probably need similar intervention here, too. 

post #12 of 23

This sounds more like the classic "cover our butts" move. No site wants to be wrong cause then they might lose hits when folks figure out they are talking out of their 'hats'. So when they say something and it's about to be revealed as poop they post there's a delay. They have already delayed the 'real tv' to like 2020 and now they are doing it on the cable box. 

 

frankly I think both are total bunk. I see no reason why Apple would go into the mess that is the licensing for a real full on tv when they could perhaps just size up and quality up their Cinema Display line up. I see no reason why they would want to get into a deal with the cable companies that would hurt their iTunes store offerings. If anything they need to find a way to get themselves legally defined as on the same level so the cable companies can't block the posting of content due to exclusive content deals. Then they can work on the timing with the studios as well as the pricing etc. If the nets and studios want to diminish torrent etc use they need all seasons in all qualities for lower prices available day after or at max week after in all markets. And if the nets would count that money with the ratings funds that would really change attitudes. But they are stupid and probably won't until Apple gets some kind of leverage to force them to. Like what happened when the record labels wanted to raise prices but they have given Apple that control.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #13 of 23

Some cable companiesare trying to get rid of cableboxes totally. My cable company is cablevision. They now have DVR hosted at their end. They are working on making the guide hosted at their end instead of a box. The security is also downloadable instead of on a card. They even have apps for iphone,ipad,ipod, and kindle so you can watch all the channels you subscribe to and their VOD  on those device. Cablevision even showed the app running on lg and samsung boxes. No cablebox required. Why would cablevision add another brand of cablebox when they are trying to get rid of them?

 

Why not let cablevision have the app installed on current apple tvs? Why have a whole new cablebox?

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJinTX View Post


This is interesting.  I had no idea this could work.  What about using TiVo in this type of setup?  As long as you pay the TiVo service fees would it be able to record correctly, or woulf the program information be incorrect?  Or actually, I guess you might still need a cable card if you have a TiVo premiere? 

If the TiVo has a digital tuner you should be able to record whatever channels it can pick up. I think by law those channels are left unscrambled.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

Some of you might remember the days when Ma Bell controlled the telephone network, including being the only supplier of telephones. This slowly changed with third-party vendors being able to sell telephones that legally could connect to the telephone wire. Then came wireless handsets and even though you can buy an AT&T-branded handset, I would guess that 99% of the people buy theirs from places like Costco, Best Buy, Fry's, Target, and Walmart. It's already partially been done with internet access where many people purchase their own cable modems not to mention wireless routers. Except for DSL modems, I see cable companies simply supplying third-party modems they don't control (no special software). Apple is trying to force the same evolution with cable companies, relegating them to ONLY providing the "wire" instead of the entire package. I would much rather see cable companies removed from supplying content, allowing customers the option of purchasing content from any source. This could ultimately most the customer more but would also provide the customer with the content they really want instead of a ton of extra channels that many never watch. Let the home shopping network customers pay for their fix and let me pay for mine. Will this ever happen? Maybe not for many years but it's the direction I'd like to see and one that isn't entirely out of the question.

I agree with you but a set top box has a lot more circuitry than a telephone. Plus each company scrambles their signal differently. A telephone used in New York can be taken and used in California. A set top box isn't interchangeable between cable companies.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by majortom1981 View Post

Some cable companiesare trying to get rid of cableboxes totally. My cable company is cablevision. They now have DVR hosted at their end. They are working on making the guide hosted at their end instead of a box. The security is also downloadable instead of on a card. They even have apps for iphone,ipad,ipod, and kindle so you can watch all the channels you subscribe to and their VOD  on those device. Cablevision even showed the app running on lg and samsung boxes. No cablebox required. Why would cablevision add another brand of cablebox when they are trying to get rid of them?

 

Why not let cablevision have the app installed on current apple tvs? Why have a whole new cablebox?

This makes things worse for those who want to separate cable companies from broadcast companies by making it impossible to manage anything locally. This forces you to use everything from Cablevision, locking you into their environment. If it works for you, that's fine, but it doesn't allow any choice for anyone else.

post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


I agree with you but a set top box has a lot more circuitry than a telephone. Plus each company scrambles their signal differently. A telephone used in New York can be taken and used in California. A set top box isn't interchangeable between cable companies.

That's true and a very good point but the lack of interoperability is what is limiting the future of cableTV. Cable boxes aren't that big of a deal. The only important thing is the decryption circuitry, which can be very small. Look at the Elgato products. They include almost all the circuitry necessary for a cable box in a fraction of the space. All they need is a smartcard-type slot to manage authentication for the signal decryption circuitry and you're done. None of this matters as long as the cableTV companies are allowed to do whatever they want as a means of restricting access to their systems.

post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

This makes things worse for those who want to separate cable companies from broadcast companies by making it impossible to manage anything locally. This forces you to use everything from Cablevision, locking you into their environment. If it works for you, that's fine, but it doesn't allow any choice for anyone else.

 

How does it stop you from managing your own content? You are still recording your shows when you want. Also since the security is downloadable any company can create a box.Since cable card wont be required.

 

How would you be using everyting from cablevision? Right now when you get a tivo OR a media center pc you are still renting a cablecard from cablevision.With everything hosted at cablevision you do not need a box . IF you want a box you can still have your own tv BUT no renting a cablecard required since the tivo will just download the required security from cablevision. This would also allow a tivo to access cablevisions VOD.

 

The problem is that the cable companies are a hodgepodge of tech. Cablevision for example is using a different downloadable security tech then what comcast is working on. 

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

That's true and a very good point but the lack of interoperability is what is limiting the future of cableTV. Cable boxes aren't that big of a deal. The only important thing is the decryption circuitry, which can be very small. Look at the Elgato products. They include almost all the circuitry necessary for a cable box in a fraction of the space. All they need is a smartcard-type slot to manage authentication for the signal decryption circuitry and you're done. None of this matters as long as the cableTV companies are allowed to do whatever they want as a means of restricting access to their systems.

 Cablecard is going away. Cablecompanies are now switching to having the security downloaded to the box instead of using a card. The problem is that the cable companies are doing it differently from each other. Apples problem is also that the cable companies are in the middle of the transition so it would be hard to have a box without it being obsolete a year or two later.

 

Example cablevision only has 1/3 of its area switched over to downloadable securtity and is currently switching another 1/3 over to it. If apples new box used cablecard eventually it wouldnt work because it would be phased out. If they went downloadable security some people wouldnt be able to use it for year or more.

post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by majortom1981 View Post

Some cable companiesare trying to get rid of cableboxes totally. My cable company is cablevision. They now have DVR hosted at their end. They are working on making the guide hosted at their end instead of a box. The security is also downloadable instead of on a card. They even have apps for iphone,ipad,ipod, and kindle so you can watch all the channels you subscribe to and their VOD  on those device. Cablevision even showed the app running on lg and samsung boxes. No cablebox required. Why would cablevision add another brand of cablebox when they are trying to get rid of them?

 

Why not let cablevision have the app installed on current apple tvs? Why have a whole new cablebox?

 

well a cable App on the current Apple Tv would solved the interface problem since the cable app would have its own.  But I think one of the point on an iOS TV would be to have a single interface regardless of the cable operator. The interface is a strange feature to argue about. I think how to split VOD profits and apps profits should more inportant features to argue about.

 

A reason for a separate cable box could be PvR features, which the current Apple TV doesnt support. The current Apple TV also doesnt have a live feed input that supports cable or DSL feeds.

 

I am still hoping for apps on the Apple TV, since its the first step in offering a more serious TV offering.

post #21 of 23

I still am waiting to find out what are the big new iOS 6 features for ATV?  So far it looks like a yawner.  :(

post #22 of 23
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post
…the big new iOS 6 features for ATV?

 

No YouTube.

post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by fizzmaster View Post

It sounds like I am in the same boat as a few of you. We dumped cable TV about 3 years ago and use a combination of Netflix and an over the air antenna for our TV needs. We have a DVR setup on our iMac to record network shows that we want. It works well for us.

 

I would like to see the networks and cable companies open their eyes and realize that their old model is not going to work in the very near future. I am not sure that Apple's solution is the right one, but I feel strongly that the current model is dying before our eyes.

 

The old model SHOULD die, but it's not going to in the medium term.   The problem is that both the cable companies (MSOs) and the content companies (cable networks) are at fault.   Many cable networks charge by the cable subscriber, regardless of whether that subscriber actually watches the channel.    I believe the Yankees Network charges $3 per subscriber per month.   It's no wonder our cable bills keep rising.   

 

I think it's time that both the cable networks and the MSOs realize that this model is unsustainable.    IMO, they have to move to an "ala-carte" system, where each channel is worth so many points (with many of the advertising-driven, but low-value channels at 0 points) and consumers can pick any channels they want, with different discount levels as you purchase more points.  However, if this happened, I think many of the more useless cable channels would disappear (not necessarily a bad thing).  

 

The only reason I haven't given up cable as yet is because I receive so many discounts for getting both cable-TV and cable-modem web service together, my ISP bill would rise substantially if I killed the cable portion.   

 

The renewal negotiations between the MSOs and the cable networks are frequently contentious and channels are frequently lost for various periods because they're both so freaking stubborn.      Apple could negotiate with each of the cable networks to get the same content the MSOs do, but that will be a mighty endeavor in a 400 channel world.     Also, the national MSOs will freak out - Comcast and Time-Warner will not pay the channels the same rates if they have to compete with Apple.    Besides, let's say you drop your cable sub because Apple is supplying the content.   But chances are, your ISP is either that same cable company or one of their competitors.    So when all that extra data starts coming down the pipe, you know they're going to raise your rates and they'll simply make up for the lost cable subscription revenue with data revenue.     So we'll be back to where we were, albeit with a better user-interface.

 

Cable companies frequently sell TIVO and other such devices, so it's not unreasonable to believe that they would sell an Apple set-top box.    The question is what Apple gets out of it.  I don't think they're in this to sell the hardware - they want to own the eco-system as they've done before. 

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