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Apple set-top box to bridge gap between live, on-demand TV?

updated 12:24 am EDT, Fri August 17, 2012

Rumors point to cloud-based DVR

Rumors surrounding a new Apple set-top box continue to grow, potentially shedding more light on the company's latest strategy to engage television viewers. Following on the heels of yesterday's report, unnamed sources have told The Wall Street Journal that the company is attempting to eliminate the distinction between live television content and on-demand offerings.

Users will allegedly be able to begin watching a show at any time, even if they arrive late after the program has already begun. Unlike most existing DVR hardware, Apple's device will pull the content from the cloud rather than relying on local storage. The company has embraced streaming content for its second- and third-generation Apple TV hardware, after dropping the disk drive that was found in the first-generation model.

The sources also suggest the set-top box will be paired with an interface that resembles the iOS navigation icons on the iPad. Differences between the set-top box UI and the Apple TV interface remain unclear, though the former is expected to add social networking capabilities via services such as Twitter.

Apple is said to be developing an ecosystem that extends to mobile devices, enabling users to access the cloud-based content from an iPhone or iPad.

The rumors have yet to be officially confirmed, but the flurry of alleged leaks reportedly coincides with Apple's efforts to attract content partners by privately divulging details. Television providers have been slow to embrace web-based business models, amid fear of "cord cutting" as some customers drop their cable or satellite service in favor of iTunes, Netflix or other streaming services. Apple is said to have backed away from its previous focus on per-episode rentals, instead partnering with cable providers to integrate the hardware without making significant changes to current subscription models.

Despite the rumors, the company is said to be facing difficulty in establishing the necessary partnerships with television providers and content owners.

by MacNN Staff



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