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This may be Apple's trickiest move in its history. We've all been wondering for a while whether Apple really is working on a next-gen Apple TV that adds "television" (cable, really) to the box. In Walter Issacson's biography of Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder suggested that the company had "finally cracked" the code of finding what you want to watch -- a clear call out to the horrible interfaces seen on 99% of all DVR's on the planet. But according to the WSJ (article behind paywall), Apple's talks with cable operators haven't yielded any deals yet.
I am not very optimistic. As the story goes, Apple was able to launch the iTunes Store with a vast array of music in part because, at the time, the company was still struggling for relevance and market share. The iMac was cute, but the iPod was expensive. iTunes selling songs seemed like a safe bet for the music labels. As Apple's market in the portable music player space grew, however, the percent cut of music sales dug deeper and deeper. Rival music players from titans like Microsoft rose and fell, as did rival online stores. The labels wound up selling a lot of tunes, and giving Apple extraordinary leverage in the distribution biz.
Fast forward to today and look at the online video space. If Netflix, HBO and Hulu have shown us anything, it's that the mavens of video learned a lesson from the music labels. Content companies don't just want to spew out content like Big Brother and True Blood, they want to distribute and monetize it every step of the way, all by themselves. Of course, the cable industry is still the predominant distributor of many shows -- and don't think for a second that any cable exec is willing to give up the control they now enjoy
|Apple TV||Mac 101|