Apple explores new TV strategies

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 19-12-2011

Apple is working to solidify its plans to break further into the television space, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, the WSJ said that the strategy could consist of a wide range of initiatives, from the widely reported story of an Apple-branded connected TV with wireless streaming for porting around content or remote control from a mobile device, to voice-enabled content discovery and search, to a centralised authentication function that would allow a single sign-in and content access across multiple screens, including iPhone, TVs and iPads.
The latter could include a whole-home DVR type functionality enabled by iCloud that would allow a viewer to pause something on one device and pick it up again on another.
The CE behemoth is making the rounds to various media companies to discuss its ideas, but the sources said there are as yet no concrete proposals for new licensing deals.
The TV push is the brainchild, like many other things, of late CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs, sources added, who envisioned an Apple-led transformation in the way that consumers watch TV. The idea is to build technology that would allow users to "stream video from mobile devices to their televisions, without a set-top box," the Journal reported. The Apple TV product enables this via AirPlay, but in a somewhat rudimentary fashion.
Apple is looking to not only act as a change agent, but also, of course, take a piece of the more than $150 billion that TV generates in revenue per year in the U.S. in advertising and monthly pay-TV subscriptions. The Apple TV strategy of offering a way to play iTunes rentals or purchases on the living-room screen has generated lukewarm interest from consumers and some suspicion from media owners. Plus, as an over-the-top service it hasn't had the benefit of support from cable, satellite and IPTV companies. Now, the Journal's sources say Apple is in talks with pay-TV operators about a potential partnership strategy; it's also seriously considering creating its own streaming subscription TV service that would bypass them.
All in all it sounds as if Apple is very much in exploration mode for the next face of its TV initiative, with few decisions made. However, the fact that conversations are underway to discuss the alternatives indicates that Jobs' wish to make an impact on the video business is far from a lost cause.