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Apple hires longtime cable exec as engineering director for 'something big'

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Cable television industry veteran Jean-Fran?ois Mul? will take an engineering position at Apple for an undisclosed project, rekindling speculation that the Cupertino company is further developing a set-top cable box.

Mule


Mul? revealed his new position in a post to his LinkedIn page on Tuesday (via Multichannel), noting that he started working at Apple in September. Under the Experience column, Mul? said he would be "Challenged, inspired and part of something big" in his role as Engineering Director.

The hire was confirmed by Mul?'s most recent employer CableLabs, which is now looking to fill the outgoing executive's former position of Senior VP of Technology Development.

Mul? has a pedigree in cable technology, and most recently worked for two years as CableLabs' SVP of Technology Development. During that time, he founded the firm's San Francisco office, which is currently building out a new research and development center in Sunnyvale, Calif. Prior to that, Mul? served as CableLabs' director of PacketCable Architecture and chief architect.

According to Multichannel, Mul? was involved in a number of high-profile initiatives, including CableLabs' DOCSIS 3.0 program and the creation of APIs for so-called "second screen" video apps.

It is unclear what Apple may have in mind with its new hire, but the company has recently been aggressively updating Apple TV software to include more channels and content. Rumors have it that Apple is looking to disrupt the cable set-top box market with a unique streaming device that ties in iCloud and possibly iOS device to create a cohesive ecosystem.

Most recently, rumblings indicate a next-generation Apple TV may hit store shelves as soon as OctoberT, though the exact hardware specifications are unknown. The third-generation Apple TV was released in March of 2012, though hardware updates have been sporadic since the device first launched in 2007.
post #2 of 39
god just buy tivo already and save me from my premier.
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post #3 of 39

Apple should offer content providers like Game of Thrones 70% of the revenue for an a'la cart streaming service. These show producers will come running for that kind of money. Cable companies will simply become internet providers and TV as we know it will die.


Edited by GadgetCanadaV2 - 10/1/13 at 5:01pm

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post #4 of 39

And the Apple Television?  Really how pathetic.

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post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetCanadaV2 View Post

Apple should offer content providers like Game of Thrones 70% of the revenue for an a'la cart streaming service. These show producers will come running for that kind of money. Cable companies will simply become internet providers and TV as we know it will die.

I see what you did there, you flipped the 30% cut Apple takes. "Don't think of it as you're giving us 30%, think of it as we're giving you 70%"
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post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetCanadaV2 View Post
 

Apple should offer content providers like Game of Thrones 70% of the revenue for an a'la cart streaming service. These show producers will come running for that kind of money. Cable companies will simply become internet providers and TV as we know it will die.

 

I don't think it's that simple.  For a lot of the shows on premium cable (like GoT), the cable network IS the producer, so their answer to Apple is "Why would we be happy with $0.70 from you, when we can have the whole dollar?".  Of course, we think they're failing to see that they could sell many more copies of a single show than they have subscribers.  But, I'm guessing that the viewer numbers for a show like GoT is close to the total number of HBO subscribers, which means they'd run the risk of cannibalizing sales of traditional subscriptions (roughly $200-300 year) with a season pass-type model, which only brings 70% of $30-50 per season.

post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetCanadaV2 View Post
 

...content providers like Game of Thrones 70% of the revenue...

I think you mean HBO???

post #8 of 39

It will never really be big unless it can use the cable/satellite pipes.  If it can replace the comcast/direct tv/dish/time warner box with something really incredible I will come running.  The current apple TV does IP based services, airplay for apps, and gives me access to my iTunes library.   It has to be more than that and not totally rely on IP or bandwidth limits will get in the way. 

post #9 of 39
For a second I thought that Apple was going to be Xfinity Downgraded
post #10 of 39
I would like to see them team up with someone like Steam. It could end up being the ultimate gaming platform. Steam has a very wide following and a new OS coming. I do realize Steam will also have their own hardware, but it wouldn't hurt them to team up with someone like Apple. It would be cool to see them somehow integrate this into AppleTV along with everything else it already does along with some kind of cable tv type thing.
post #11 of 39
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
Rumors have it that Apple is looking to disrupt the cable set-top box market with a unique streaming device that ties in iCloud and possibly iOS device to create a cohesive ecosystem.

 

So let's see.  Hiring the director now means that there just might be a product by this time next year.  Small matter of designing the architecture, hiring managers, hiring engineers + QA, internally testing a beta, then another beta, then another, then redesigning things and testing yet another beta, etc.  Not to mention all those contracts that need to be signed with some of the content providers and other major legacy players.

 

But the technology infrastructure is already there. Just take a look at the iTunes Festival app on iOS and Apple TV.  It's a preview of Apple's future television disruption: live streaming video plus pre-recorded streaming content.  That's all you need.  No DVR recording feature because it's useless for millions of consumers to have their own local copy of the same content.

 

Over the last decade, Apple has shown that they build out the enabling technologies and infrastructures first, test it all in public, then add the actual hardware component as the keystone.  The tip of the pyramid.  iTunes for example: it was released months before the first iPod, but it is the reason for the iPod's success.  Without iTunes, iPod would have been just a slightly shiner, slightly easier-to-use MP3 player.  With iTunes, it was a worldbeater.

 

Competitors hastily copy Apple's hardware components (e.g. iPad), then realize there's a lot more to it.  They try to fake the infrastructure until they can build out their own solution (e.g. RIM PlayBook.)  Of course, that takes years, and by then it could be too late.  It takes Apple years to build out their infrastructure too.  But they build it out in advance of the actual consumer hardware product release.  In plain sight, testing it with existing hardware products.  

 

Another example: those little iPod click-wheel games in the mid-2000s.  Apple used them to test the purchase, download, and installation of software to the iPod.  That basic technology was the proof-of-concept for today's App Store.  I think Apple is using iTunes Radio, iTunes Festival, and the current Apple TV as test beds for their future infrastructure.  And yes, by the time Apple rolls out their "real" television disruption strategy, it will be too late for any competitor to mash up a me-too hardware component, then try to fake their own copy of Apple's content and distribution infrastructure.

 

As for the mythical "Apple TV set," I think it will just be a 60" 4K Thunderbolt Display.  Just a big monitor connected to some future Apple TV box.  That's all Apple would need to do.  If they feel like it.  It certainly won't be an imperative.

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post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssls6 View Post
 

It will never really be big unless it can use the cable/satellite pipes.  If it can replace the comcast/direct tv/dish/time warner box with something really incredible I will come running.  The current apple TV does IP based services, airplay for apps, and gives me access to my iTunes library.   It has to be more than that and not totally rely on IP or bandwidth limits will get in the way. 

 

Agreed. I don't know how they manage wrestling the pipes away from cable. Messy, very messy. Google is testing the waters with their super high speed service in a few selected cities. I wish Apple would do the same except make it Apple device specific with a low monthly fee. The way things are going with all of the subscriptions, à la carte will end up costing way too much. Plus there is still the issue of live TV and local TV.

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post #13 of 39
This tells me that Apple is done with AppleTV 1.0 and is hard at work on 2.0.

iTunesTV 1.0 will be released soon.
post #14 of 39
Did someone say iCloud? If this product has a heavy reliance on iCloud then its doomed from the start.
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

So let's see.  Hiring the director now means that there just might be a product by this time next year.  Small matter of designing the architecture, hiring managers, hiring engineers + QA, internally testing a beta, then another beta, then another, then redesigning things and testing yet another beta, etc.  Not to mention all those contracts that need to be signed with some of the content providers and other major legacy players.

But the technology infrastructure is already there. Just take a look at the iTunes Festival app on iOS and Apple TV.  It's a preview of Apple's future television disruption: live streaming video plus pre-recorded streaming content.  That's all you need.  No DVR recording feature because it's useless for millions of consumers to have their own local copy of the same content.

Over the last decade, Apple has shown that they build out the enabling technologies and infrastructures first, test it all in public, then add the actual hardware component as the keystone.  The tip of the pyramid.  iTunes for example: it was released months before the first iPod, but it is the reason for the iPod's success.  Without iTunes, iPod would have been just a slightly shiner, slightly easier-to-use MP3 player.  With iTunes, it was a worldbeater.

Competitors hastily copy Apple's hardware components (e.g. iPad), then realize there's a lot more to it.  They try to fake the infrastructure until they can build out their own solution (e.g. RIM PlayBook.)  Of course, that takes years, and by then it could be too late.  It takes Apple years to build out their infrastructure too.  But they build it out in advance of the actual consumer hardware product release.  In plain sight, testing it with existing hardware products.  

Another example: those little iPod click-wheel games in the mid-2000s.  Apple used them to test the purchase, download, and installation of software to the iPod.  That basic technology was the proof-of-concept for today's App Store.  I think Apple is using iTunes Radio, iTunes Festival, and the current Apple TV as test beds for their future infrastructure.  And yes, by the time Apple rolls out their "real" television disruption strategy, it will be too late for any competitor to mash up a me-too hardware component, then try to fake their own copy of Apple's content and distribution infrastructure.

As for the mythical "Apple TV set," I think it will just be a 60" 4K Thunderbolt Display.  Just a big monitor connected to some future Apple TV box.  That's all Apple would need to do.  If they feel like it.  It certainly won't be an imperative.
It would take a lot for me to give up my DirecTV. Not sure how Apple can beat something like that. Unless they buy it.
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Creep View Post

I don't think it's that simple.  For a lot of the shows on premium cable (like GoT), the cable network IS the producer, so their answer to Apple is "Why would we be happy with $0.70 from you, when we can have the whole dollar?".  Of course, we think they're failing to see that they could sell many more copies of a single show than they have subscribers.  But, I'm guessing that the viewer numbers for a show like GoT is close to the total number of HBO subscribers, which means they'd run the risk of cannibalizing sales of traditional subscriptions (roughly $200-300 year) with a season pass-type model, which only brings 70% of $30-50 per season.

Game of thrones also happens to be one of the most pirated shows. I think content producers aren't seeing the additional revenue they can gain simply by providing an easy method of purchase for customers who want to watch their shows, but don't have cable. Right now that segment is being served by the pirate bay. It's the pre-iPod music industry all over again
post #17 of 39
Today the world of streaming belongs to Netflix, but that's about to change, the cable operators love them less--why? taking eyes, and huge chunks of bandwidth---Apple works deal for revenue sharing and original programing--a total disruption--
post #18 of 39
Apple usually don't make these hires until they have something nearly fully baked for a public release. I hope that's the case here.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post


iTunesTV 1.0 will be released soon.

In someways you might be more correct than false. Any 'TV' they do might be more a service than hardware. The little box may just be the tool for using said 'iTunes TV' service on a TV as one option. The computer, iOS devices etc being the others

It could even one day look like this bloggers idea
http://wearefangirls.blogspot.com/2013/09/steve-jobs-simpliest-interface-and-how.html

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post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetCanadaV2 View Post
 

Apple should offer content providers like Game of Thrones 70% of the revenue for an a'la cart streaming service. These show producers will come running for that kind of money. Cable companies will simply become internet providers and TV as we know it will die.

 

That's Apple standard deal.   And HBO isn't biting… so your example basically proves the invalidity of your theory.

post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by dnd0ps View Post


Game of thrones also happens to be one of the most pirated shows. I think content producers aren't seeing the additional revenue they can gain simply by providing an easy method of purchase for customers who want to watch their shows, but don't have cable. Right now that segment is being served by the pirate bay. It's the pre-iPod music industry all over again

 

HBO is the exclusive TV rights owner (cable/broadcast/DVD).  

 

Their issue is that they can't provide a non-cable solution without renegotiating contracts with every cable company who expect all HBO first run TV content to be exclusively cable driven.

 

In essense, the problem is evolving the contracts with the cable industry, which unlike music is geographically franchised and a mishmash of national, regional, and even municipal sized cable carriers.    You can't just get a label to say 'the B52s are now on iTunes' and that's just like a new music store in town, like the 8 others  already there.   Comcast, Charter, TimesWarner, Cablevision would march 500 lawyers into court to block any ITMS distribution into 'their exclusive geographies'  (especially on their cables!)

 

No, the long slow transition is to first make Cable 'look like' the Apple 'iTV' is delivering it's content, by allowing cable companies to virtualize their STB into an iTV 'app'(or channel, or whatever).   Put a cable nipple on the Apple STB, and the Apple's secret sauce on top merging all the content into an easily navigable  format.    This will be slow… slower than phones, because of the franchise control is effectively a monopoly so there is no competition like ATT was able to exert on Verizon/Sprint/TMobile… and SoftBank on Docomo, etc.

post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


I see what you did there, you flipped the 30% cut Apple takes. "Don't think of it as you're giving us 30%, think of it as we're giving you 70%"

 

I bet production companies don't get 70% of gross on their shows now. It would be a big step up. 
post #23 of 39
With it being a cable box that narrows down what they can do. It will be very similar to the xbox one (just not the graphics power).

*Arm processor A*X* silicon around the power of next iPad (in house chip to suite their needs / cheap)
* HDMI In & HDMI Out ( piggyback off of existing cable boxes with a guide)
* Built in mic / remote control from idevices with touch / voice

OS / Guide features
*TV Guide overlay onto HDMI IN source (Cable provider box)
*Updated flat ui from ios7
*Voice control / Siri via built in mic
*Featuring 1st party ios apps (browser/mail etc)
*Support for 3rd party apps via app store
*Extensive game support w/ a game controller from the latest iOS 7 update
*Built in cam for facetime + other video apps

$100-150

The first real challenge to the big three in the gaming industry.
Edited by elzeus - 10/1/13 at 10:16pm
post #24 of 39

Any thought of Apple replacing both the Cable Set Top Box and the Cable Modem?  I mean like Airport Extreme TV?  

post #25 of 39

For me I would  like to view the NFL games on my iPad.  The only TV I watch is a few NFL games.  

post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by akqies View Post

Apple usually don't make these hires until they have something nearly fully baked for a public release. I hope that's the case here.

I disagree, Apple has a well defined plan and hires like this are to put the right people in the right positions to implement the plan. It may include somethings Apple is already selling, something they will release soon, but the pieces of the puzzle that will telegraph what's up their sleeve will come later and then everything will click together making the Apple Watchers go, "Oh Holly Shit!" The pundits will explain why it will be a total fail and drive Apple's stock to a new low. Meanwhile Microsoft will announce that they are working on something similar but better and Samsung will announce that they will be releasing a bigger and better version in the next 30-60 days (and in gold).


Has anyone heard that several large stock holders want to set Bill Gates out into the parking lot with his shit in a cardboard box??



What do you think? Does Bill Gates know his shit or not?
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post #27 of 39
Originally Posted by elzeus View Post
* HDMI In & HDMI Out ( piggyback off of existing cable boxes with a guide)

 

Well, that’s the opposite of the point of the device, at least.

 
*Updated flat ui from iOS 7

 

Ew. But anything that gets rid of the stupid ribbon is probably better.

 

Also, not flat.

 
*Voice control / Siri via built in mic

 

Not gonna shout at my TV, thanks.

 
*Featuring 1st party ios apps (browser/mail etc)

 

It’s a TV. No one wants that.

 
*Built in cam for facetime + other video apps

 

It’s a box and you’re in a recliner ten feet away. No.

 
The first real challenge to the big three in the gaming industry. 

 

iOS devices already are.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by lanceh5 View Post

For me I would  like to view the NFL games on my iPad.  The only TV I watch is a few NFL games.  

Slingbox.
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post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post
 

I think you mean HBO???

 

Did that make you feel better? Correcting him on a minor point when EVERYONE knew what he meant?

 

Petty.

post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post
 

 

So let's see.  Hiring the director now means that there just might be a product by this time next year.  Small matter of designing the architecture, hiring managers, hiring engineers + QA, internally testing a beta, then another beta, then another, then redesigning things and testing yet another beta, etc.  Not to mention all those contracts that need to be signed with some of the content providers and other major legacy players.

 

But the technology infrastructure is already there. Just take a look at the iTunes Festival app on iOS and Apple TV.  It's a preview of Apple's future television disruption: live streaming video plus pre-recorded streaming content.  That's all you need.  No DVR recording feature because it's useless for millions of consumers to have their own local copy of the same content.

 

Over the last decade, Apple has shown that they build out the enabling technologies and infrastructures first, test it all in public, then add the actual hardware component as the keystone.  The tip of the pyramid.  iTunes for example: it was released months before the first iPod, but it is the reason for the iPod's success.  Without iTunes, iPod would have been just a slightly shiner, slightly easier-to-use MP3 player.  With iTunes, it was a worldbeater.

 

Competitors hastily copy Apple's hardware components (e.g. iPad), then realize there's a lot more to it.  They try to fake the infrastructure until they can build out their own solution (e.g. RIM PlayBook.)  Of course, that takes years, and by then it could be too late.  It takes Apple years to build out their infrastructure too.  But they build it out in advance of the actual consumer hardware product release.  In plain sight, testing it with existing hardware products.  

 

Another example: those little iPod click-wheel games in the mid-2000s.  Apple used them to test the purchase, download, and installation of software to the iPod.  That basic technology was the proof-of-concept for today's App Store.  I think Apple is using iTunes Radio, iTunes Festival, and the current Apple TV as test beds for their future infrastructure.  And yes, by the time Apple rolls out their "real" television disruption strategy, it will be too late for any competitor to mash up a me-too hardware component, then try to fake their own copy of Apple's content and distribution infrastructure.

 

As for the mythical "Apple TV set," I think it will just be a 60" 4K Thunderbolt Display.  Just a big monitor connected to some future Apple TV box.  That's all Apple would need to do.  If they feel like it.  It certainly won't be an imperative.

 

 

Well said. Thumbs up...

 

post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by akqies View Post

Apple usually don't make these hires until they have something nearly fully baked for a public release. I hope that's the case here.

 

Really?  Do you have any examples of that?

 

Thompson

post #32 of 39

I've been dreaming for a while that Apple might try to simplify the whole TV/Internet access mess in one product by building a cable modem and wifi router into their future TV. This could work as a plug and play device on most cable systems. Hiring this DOCSIS 3 engineer/specialist seems to point to this as a possibility. 

 

Imagine your TV as the hub of your entire home. Plug it into a cable line with broadband service and it configures itself and simultaneously provides wireless networking to the home and shared video service to all AppleTV equipped TVs in the house with little to no effort or technical knowledge on the part of the user. It may be a dream, but I think this solution seems pretty Apple-like.

post #33 of 39

Obviously it needs to be more than just tech.

 

I want a box where I pay a reasonable flat fee, and I can stream any movie or any TV show ever made. Maybe have different service tiers. Something for people who just want current or recent stuff, and another for full coverage (back to stuff filmed on Vitascopes or Cinematographe). Eventually they can add short films, music videos, whatever.

 

Hey, gotta fill those fancy new data centers with something!

 

Yeah, I know. The IP houses would never allow it.

post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by dnd0ps View Post


Game of thrones also happens to be one of the most pirated shows. I think content producers aren't seeing the additional revenue they can gain simply by providing an easy method of purchase for customers who want to watch their shows, but don't have cable. Right now that segment is being served by the pirate bay. It's the pre-iPod music industry all over again

 

It's a thin line they're walking.  Making a la carte seasons available might bring that piracy number down, but it may also affect their subscriber count.  I don't know if content producers can realistically view pirate numbers as potential customers...they need to work to protect the numbers they can count on (subscribers).

post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jakeb View Post
 

 

 

The revenue model for most TV shows doesn't work this way.  Show producers "sell" the show to the network for an agreed upon price, based on popularity of show.  Network turns around and charges advertisers for commercial time on that show for an agreed upon rate...again based on popularity.

 

With a la carte, your Apple, Amazon and Google Play stores have taken the place of the networks, but instead of wildly varying rates based on popularity, most show prices are fixed.  While the a la carte model is growing in popularity, there is no way more people are paying for their content this way vs. the traditional network model.  

post #36 of 39
HaHa Dude! Somehow I don't think it is going to be a set top box! Did we check our brains at the door when we sat down to write this one?
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by DogCowabunga View Post

HaHa Dude! Somehow I don't think it is going to be a set top box! Did we check our brains at the door when we sat down to write this one?

What makes more sense, a set top box that people will buy 2-4 and have all of their TVs getting content through or from Apple, or a TV set that people will buy only one of? The refresh cycle for a STB could be 3-4 years while a TV will be 5-7 years.
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post #38 of 39
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post
a TV will be 5-7 years.

 

I think it’s 7-10 years on average now. 

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

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post #39 of 39
I've been following this with some interest. One thought I've had is that for Apple to get around the multitude of regional cable monopolies they could partner with Dish Network...or buy them outright. (Full disclosure: I'm a current DirecTV subscriber, myself). But Dish is the obligatory 2nd place (the AVIS of satellite TV). This would provide a way for them to make a splash & do something groundbreaking. It also gives Apple turnkey tech support on the delivery. Make the transition to satellite-delivered internet (a la Hughes), and now Apple is in the ISP business, too.

It's a big new business to absorb, and would be a major new frontier for Apple, but now they have the "pipe" into your home, the ISP, the content/channel packaging (e.g., pay by the episode, like the iTunes model). Knowing Apple, it can't be just about the box.
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