Feeds

Apple angling to transform TV?

Talks with CBS, Disney

Security for virtualized datacentres

Apple is reportedly talking with CBS and Disney in its search for content partners for a planned US subscription-based television service.

Word of the discussions comes from "people familiar with the matter," according to a report (subscription required) in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

Details of the much-rumored service haven't yet solidified even to the level of "sketchy" - and, of course, Apple isn't talking.

Even in a country in which TiVO has become a verb and cable-based video-on-demand services are proliferating, most television is still viewed on a scheduled basis. An Apple offering built from the ground up as a viewer-controlled subscription or pay-per-view service could change that.

Cable companies rake in hefty monthly fees from bundling hundreds of channels in "basic" and "premium" packages, but most viewers settle on a few favorites. Devotees of Playboy en Espanol, for example, may have never tuned in to Showtime Women - but they pay for both.

Presumably, an Apple service would not require you to sign up for massive bundles, but instead allow you to pick and choose what you want to view. You might pay more on a per-channel basis, but less overall.

And if it were to be approved by the famously hard-to-please Steve Jobs, an Apple service would almost certainly be more user-friendly than any cable company's pay-per-view offering.

Perhaps the Apple TV, which Jobs famously referred to as a "hobby" product, was never expected to be a money maker, but instead Apple's test bed for television-interface experimentation. As Jobs once told an interviewer: "It hasn't crested to be millions of units per year, but I think if we improve things we can crack that."

Creating a subscription service filled with timely content from major networks would certainly be an improvement. As might also be the long-rumored, Apple-branded, big-screen TV, perhaps bundled with the advanced "magic wand" remote for which Apple filed a patent last year.

A major - and obvious - challenge facing Apple in creating a television-delivery service would be creating a deal for content providers that would be lucrative enough to wean them away from their current diet of ad revenue. Or, perhaps, to create a multi-tiered system in which consumers paid more for ad-free content.

Apple, of course, currently sells TV shows on its iTunes Store, but on a show-by-show basis, much as it sells tunes and iPhone apps. But Cupertino's recent acquisition of the music streaming service Lala - and, more importantly, of the engineering minds that created it - seems to indicate that a subscription-based streaming service is at least being bandied about in the conference rooms at One Infinite Loop.

And then there's that $1bn data center that Apple is busily building at the WestStar Mission Critical Data Park near Maiden, North Carolina. Certainly it will have a central role in Apple's content-delivery future.

It's been about a decade since Steve Jobs first announced Apple's "digital hub" strategy at a Macworld Expo keynote. During those ten years Cupertino has been hell-bent on transforming itself for a low market-share computer company into a leader in content creation, delivery, and consumption. And multiple signs point to an impending launch of it's next hardware foray into content consumption, the oft-rumored media pad.

The most recent spate of rumors swirling around that "iPad" have been focused on its future as an ebook reader. We're betting, however, that Jobs & Co's "next big thing" won't be marketed as a vehicle for as narrow a niche as text.

After all, there's a lot more money to be made by streaming CBS's Cold Case to millions of viewers than by selling a few thousand copies of Random House's In Cold Blood. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.