Apple’s New Front in Battle for TV

In May, I wrote an article reflecting on the then-recent surge in rumours regarding a true Apple television:

Apple, in essence, needs to become an internet cable TV provider for their television to fulfill the duties of a regular set2 in a distinctly Apple fashion.

The footnote in that sentence was elaborated thusly:

If there were standards for cable boxes, Apple could always build a decoder into their TV, but there aren’t.

This was the crux of my post. Since there aren’t any standards for the decoding of cable TV signals, Apple can’t just build a simple card in there to work with any provider.

However, Jessica E. Vascellaro and Shalini Ramachandran report today for the Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. is in talks with some of the biggest U.S. cable operators about letting consumers use an Apple device as a set-top box for live television and other content, according to people familiar with the matter.

The talks represent Apple’s most ambitious crack at infiltrating the living room after years of trying.

If Apple manages to make this work, and they build it into the current Apple TV, it will make it an absolute killer product. If I can buy a $100 box that delivers high definition television, rentals from iTunes with the click of a button, and AirPlay support, I can’t see it being merely a hobby for Apple any longer.