updated 01:14 am EST, Tue February 4, 2014
Speculation of pushing TV content, taking iTunes content delivery in-house
Apple, which has for years relied on third-party content delivery networks (CDNs) like Akamai and Level3 to ensure reliable streaming of its media content, is now building out its own CDN, reports the Wall Street Journal. This would in time mean that items such as iTunes streaming video and music content (movie rentals, iTunes Match music, iTunes Radio) as well as other large files such as OS X updates could be delivered on its own network.
Possible buildup to Apple HDTV expansion?
Such a network could be part of a larger plan to expand existing Apple TV services to accommodate TV over IP or other plans Apple may have for the long-speculated Apple HDTV, or other video-delivery areas that are part of the "intense interest" Apple has with existing television infrastructure and the overall experience. Apple's iCloud service, having more control over its own delivery, and expanding iTunes and Apple TV services could also be behind the in-house CDN buildup, but sources say the acquisitions presage an exponential growth in media delivery services, either for offering more content or preparing for an eventual 4K video rollout, or both.
Apple has also made recent hires in the area of television and cable growth. Thus far, it has hired Lauren Provo (formerly part of Comcast's Internet division) and Jean-François Mulé, for VP of technology development at CableLabs. Mulé is now an "engineering director" at Apple.
Experts in CDN management say that Apple is signing long-term deals for bandwidth and networking expertise, with one authority quoted by the Journal saying that Apple has bought enough bandwidth from web carriers to stream "hundreds of gigabits of data per second" -- far more than it presently has need of.