Apple Inc.'s [NASDAQ:AAPL] master plan to completely disrupt the television industry has been put on hold. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is in talks with U.S. cable providers to create an Apple product that would allow consumers to view live television content and access other Internet-related services.
"Apple doesn't appear to have reached a deal with any cable operators. One obstacle may be the reluctance of operators to let Apple establish a foothold in the television business," reports the Wall Street Journal.
The television industry has long been reluctant to work out any long-standing deal with Apple. Soon after the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs, reports surfaced that Apple was building a full-fledged television with aims to disrupt the entire television industry as it once had with the music industry. The key to making Job's ambitions of building a revolutionary television set were shattered by legacy television brands that were reluctant to offer up content.
"I told Steve, 'You know more than me about 99 percent of things but I know more about the television business,'" said CBS CEO Leslie Moonves in a Hollywood Reporter interview, citing concerns that Apple would be able to disrupt CBS' existing revenue streams. Moonves said Jobs, in characteristic fashion, strongly disagreed with his assessment.
Patently Apple recently reported that Apple was granted a patent relating to major network programming. "Apple's 2006 patent filing clearly illustrates that Apple TV was or is to work with regular cable TV. The patent figures clearly show ABC, Fox channels and so forth. Apple TV was and/or is to be able to record TV shows. Advanced Set-top-Box features for Apple TV would be a welcomed addition to the current iteration of Apple TV, one being it could act as a high-end PVR," reported Patently Apple.
The patent could help Apple in its latest series of negotiations with U.S. cable providers. WSJ points out that Apple would be following a similar model that it used to disrupt the mobile-phone industry. Apple would, in essence, be asking U.S. cable companies to let consumers use Apple hardware and software with their services.
Although an Apple set-top-box would likely be much better than DVRs offered up by the nation's most prominent cable providers, a set-top-box would fall short of the iTV that Steve Jobs reportedly envisioned. Job's biographer Walter Isaacson reported extensively on Jobs' ambitions and his aspirations to disrupt and aging television market with a product that was unofficially dubbed "iTV" by fans.
"I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it," Jobs reportedly told Isaacson.
Apple's set-top-box Apple TV units are pretty awesome, but they ultimately fall short when it comes to Job's true vision. An "integrated television set" that is "seamlessly synched with...iCloud" is nothing like the unit that is described in Apple's latest patents, and it doesn't sound like Apple is pitching a device to U.S. cable providers. So, while Apple may be releasing a cool television device soon, it will likely fall short of Jobs' aspirations.