updated 09:59 am EDT, Thu September 6, 2012
Cable providers major stumbling block
Apple won't be releasing any new "TV product" in 2012, according to a Bloomberg source. The person says that Apple is still stalling in talks with content and cable providers, who don't have much cause to surrender any of their current revenue schemes. Cable companies are said to be creating a particular obstacle, since they want control over the software on Apple's rumored set-top box, and are disputing whether or not they would get to distribute the peripheral instead of Apple selling it directly.
A group of Bloomberg sources support the set-top rumors, suggesting that since the mid-2000s, Apple engineers have been working on a product that would let people quickly find TV shows and movies, live or recorded. The device would recommend new content based on previous interests, and integrate with Apple's other hardware, for instance supporting the use of an iPhone or iPad as a remote control. The current Apple TV set is limited to a handful of online streaming services, and content from iTunes, whether on Apple's servers or on a local computer. iPhones, iPads, and iPods can be used as remotes, but only on a very basic level.
Negotiations with cable companies have allegedly been ongoing since the launch of the first Apple TV in 2007. In recent times Apple is said to have concentrated on companies willing to allow Apple live content for streaming, above all Time Warner Cable. Bloomberg's sources suggest that Apple may in fact be hoping to hook TWC as an initial partner in the same way that it pulled in AT&T for the iPhone. It's believed that people using the set-top would be forced to pay a standard cable bill.
Apple is meanwhile said to be chasing down on-demand content, but facing opposition from media companies, who are reportedly worried about losing control of their content, and/or the channel bundles sold through the cable providers. A-la-carte channel selection has been a long-standing demand of TV watchers, but media conglomerates have found it much more lucrative to require providers to sell several channels together in a package.