NYT spells out Apple’s living room strategy

By , Jul 18, 2013

Apple TV Standing

Apple’s plans for the living room have rested largely on the Apple TV the company’s leadership continues to call “a hobby project.” While there’s been talk that the tech giant could unveil its own television set, rumors of revamping the television experience have been greeted with industry concern and fruitless negotiations.

However, now comes word Apple wants to be friends with Time Warner, Disney and other content producers – and along the way improve some of the worst aspects of current television viewing.

One result of the partnerships is an upcoming Time Warner Cable Apple TV app that would turn Apple’s $99 set-top box into a channel guide for live and on-demand programming much superior to the clunky software now offered by the distributor…

Apple is “trying to apply their software expertise, their user interface expertise,” one person involved in private talks between distributors and Apple told the New York Times.

Apple has talked in-depth with other big distributors about similar apps, according to people involved in the talks. Its intent is to collect a fee from distributors in exchange for enhancing their television service and in that way, theoretically, make subscribers more likely to keep paying for cable.

Another example is the co-operation between Apple and 1 Mainstream, which developed a free Sky News streaming app for the Apple TV.

“It’s a learning year for Apple,” 1 Mainstream CEO Rajeev Raman told the paper. “And it’s a learning year for all of us, to say, O.K., what really does work?”

At the same time, Apple’s content negotiator, Eddy Cue, recently attended the Sun Valley conference.

Apple TV companion
Brightcove’s CEO called for an Apple TV companion product with a coax input, motion sensing and an Apple TV app store.

For Apple, along with updating an experience company CEO Tim Cook has described as “too much like 10 or 20 years ago,” the switch from antagonizing to appeasing television networks could also take up the slack from slowing iPhone sales.

As part of the potential agreements, Apple would charge distributors a fee to create apps that may keep cable customers.

Tim Cook and Eddy Cue arrive at Sun Valley (Jon Erlichman 001)
Apple’s boss Tim Cook and content king Eddy Cue arrive at the 2013 Sun Valley retreat

The Thursday report also claims Apple has proposed “an ad-skipping technology that would compensate networks for the skipped ads by charging users.” Although described as far-fetched, the idea “intrigued some of the channel owners who were briefed about it”.

Apple’s ad-skipping tech was first reported on by the former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessien.

Apple’s decision to aid television distributors likely will also mean it should get a friendlier hearing when it comes to distribution deals. The report could also puts a crimp in Google’s plans to create an online television service that competes against the likes of Time Warner and cable giant Comcast.

APPLE TV report

While the news of Apple’s partnerships with television leaders seems a departure from past tactics, the apparent shift has been underway for some time.

In June, Apple announced Apple TV owners would get HBO and ESPN apps – but only for cable or satellite subscribers. When Apple announced iTunes Radio, the company agreed to pay royalties that were slightly higher than rival Pandora.

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  • Canchume

    for me the apple tv is useless its the worst thing i bought in my life

    • Dosen’t Matter

      then sell it

    • Chindavon

      One of the best things I’ve owned. Use it on a daily basis and more than my DirecTv, which I should probably cancel since it’s not being used much.

    • Pedro Nieto

      Sorry to hear that. I use it everyday. I have three of them. XBMC is a Apple TV must have app.

      • Canchume

        well the only use i found in my country is to watch netflix

  • Armed in the Villa

    I love my apple tv. I fling my iPad games and content to it, watch Netflix and ESPN on it, etc. $99 for that convenience was worth it to me, so any additional powers could only make it better IMHO

  • Jose Antonio Gomez

    a jailbroken atv is the best

  • Alnando Espaillat

    I love my Apple TV..jailbroken iPhone with a Apple TV is the best thing in the world

    • Kurt

      Computer hooked up to the tv is the best thing in the world. I’m writing this on my big screen

      • Chindavon

        Obviously you don’t get how it’s used and how it works.

      • Kurt

        ok troll…go on your apple tv and write an email, work on photoshop…oh what? you can’t hmm yeah, apple tv is better sorry i forgot with apple, the less you can do the better.

      • Chindavon

        You’ve just proved my point. You just don’t get it.

      • Kurt

        i know you are trolling, but since you are replying, perhaps there is something i dont know about…but i highly doubt apple tv can do something a computer can’t

      • Boss

        I’d rather have a Mac Mini hooked up to my big screen than Apple TV

      • Kurt

        Those hide so nicely behind the TV. That and the dell zune

      • Mykel Monroe

        Dell bro, wtf? LOL

      • Kurt

        Sorry about that…”Apple is number 1, baaa”

      • Mykel Monroe

        I’m not saying it like that. It’s just out of any PC, Dell has to be my last go to. That and Gateway which I have as my main PC atm due to getting it brand new for 2 and change.

      • Kurt

        I know, I was just teasing.

      • RF

        You really don’t know what apple tv’s capabilities are, before you just blatantly open your mouth, you should research it. Oh and calling people names like Troll? seriously how old are you? Apple TV is amazing for people who have any apple products such as Mac computers, iphone, ipads and ipods, so if you don’t have any of those products then don’t even get in this conversation. With all those apple products using Apple TV Airplay Mirror capability, we can literally mirror whatever is on on our apple laptop, iphone, ipod, ipad on our tv wirelessly and stream it on our big screen. We can also play music especially with surround sound speakers attached to our tv. So you were saying can we use photoshop using apple tv? Yes we can, and besides the mirror airplay, it comes with its own apps that you can access quickly without opening a computer, like showing pics on those devices and streaming it on the big screen. We can play games on our devices and stream it as well. I have a PC as well with iTunes on it and i can stream music

      • Kurt

        Why such an idiotic reply? Apple TV is not worth it. I can do everything you can do on an Apple TV plus an infinite more since my computer is hooked up to my TV. I can mirror my iphone/ipad too since I have a cable. You can play angry birds, wow, me too and I can play computer games. you can use photoshop, the mobile one that can do very little. You’re a pathetic joke to get upset and try to defend the apple TV. Damn troll

      • RF

        Like that other person you called a “troll” up there, YOU STILL DON’T GET IT haha damn dude… I can mirror my Macbook to my tv, while im using photoshop on my computer, using apple tv, not just iphone or tablet lol and i dont care if you think its worth it or not, im just saying you can stream anything you see on a Mac screen WIRELESS, even if im using photoshop. Damn troll, you look like a troll

      • Kurt

        didn’t know about that. thats a great feature. But the black bars on the side kill it and it doesn’t mirror at 1080p.

        go a way troll

  • Yujin

    I don’t think an Apple TV (with screen) is the solution. In orde for apple to take over the living room. They need to use that little box and load amazing tech on it. Like that kinect tech people are saying they are trying to buy. Imagine a roku with better interface, gestures and a shit load of premium content. Not just the garbage channels you get on roku or other boxes.