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Is Apple finally about to crack TV?

50s TV

via Flickr © brizzle born and bred (CC BY-ND 2.0)

So far Apple’s attempts at ‘getting into’ television have been indifferent. There’s been the Apple TV streaming box which was and is a fine and viable product, but it didn’t set the world on fire.

What happened? Jobs said back in 2007 that TV was a hobby, not just for Apple, but for all consumer product manufacturers. By this he meant that no manufacturer had cracked the market and sold millions of units, rather it was a market into which you sold hundreds of thousands of units. Apple would ideally like to do something much better than that!

Hardly surprising that after that stake in the ground we’ve had a stream of rumours. The most likely of these to my mind was the Apple TV set (to use an old-fashioned term): rumours about which have resurfaced a couple of times and are still doing the rounds today.

And it’s easy to imagine a sleek, beautifully sculpted slab looking like a huge iPad laying on its side and no doubt there are several ‘Apple Television Set’ concepts hidden away in Apple’s design vaults. So far, no product but, as with the iPhone phablet, it’s sure to come.

Now the latest rumour, broken by re/code is that Apple has decided to go for a disintermediation play by forgetting about the gadgets (just inventing a better mousetrap was never going to work) and concentrating on content deals.

“The theory is that Apple would put together bundles of programming — but not the entire TV lineup that pay TV providers generally offer — and sell it directly to consumers, over the Web.”

Apple may now be worried about the competition and finally feels the need to move fast. Streaming OTT services are already being launched by the likes of Dish and Sony (which announced its plan about a year ago). Apple is now in talks with content providers about pulling together a compelling schedule which is believed to involve a mix of ‘linear’ (conventional) TV and video-on-demand.

Yes, Apple is famously good at gadgets, but it’s also got lots of experience in cloud-based downloading thanks to the App Store, so an OTT streaming service makes a lot of sense.

Maybe this time.

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