updated 07:00 pm EDT, Wed July 10, 2013
Cue is lead exec in hunt for content deals for Apple TV, stores
Adding to our earlier report of Apple CEO Tim Cook's second appearance at the Sun Valley retreat for technology and media bigwigs is photo confirmation that he has been joined on this trip by Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue. Cue was not expected to attend and his presence is a surprise, but logical given the attendees and Apple's desire to bring more content on board to its various offerings that Cue is largely in charge of, such as the various online iTunes Stores and the Apple TV. Cue's presence will also fuel more speculation about a rumored HDTV-based Apple product.
The week-long conference brings together many of the biggest names and brands in the technology and media industries to work on deals, mergers, partnerships and acquisitions away from the spotlight. Cook spoke at the conference last year, and this year will see attendance by figures such as Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney; Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook; all three of the lead executives of Google; Les Moonves of CBS; Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation and Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, whose presence is said to hint at future cable provider consolidation.
The conference comprises presentations, discussions, panels and social events that foster networking and discussion of business, political and economic topics. The annual event is run by New York investment bank Allen & Company, and Cook was a surprise addition last year -- along with Laureen Powell-Jobs, who also attended.
Malone and the other network executives may be a particular target of Cook and Cue, as Apple has recently been working to expand its media offerings and abilities for its Apple TV set-top box and Cook has repeatedly spoken about Apple's "intense interest" in redefining the TV experience, leading to talk of a Apple-branded HDTV or something similar. Apple recently added HBOGo, WatchESPN and Sky News among other channels to Apple TV and is said to be in talks with various providers for more content.
Apple also recently hired former Hulu executive Pete Distad to negotiate deals with Time Warner to bring direct channel programming to the Apple TV and possibly other projects. Cook was asked by Bloomberg reporter Jon Erlichman if the event would be a "big week" for him, and replied with only "we'll see."