Apparently the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Apple attempting to turn the cable TV market on its ear is that, after discovering that the media giants who control the financial future of the industry declared their displeasure with being cut out of the game, Apple is now attempting to go direct to the content providers themselves. The company is allegedly still holding off announcing its reportedly in-production iTV until they can sew up some kind of live TV/cloud DVR hybrid service as Steve Jobs envisioned, and it’s still not going according to plan. But Apple keeps trying.
This is really starting to show how little Apple understands the TV industry. They managed to yoke the music lables with their proprietary DRM and a 90%+ share of the MP3 player market, but with other providers out there, like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, along with plenty of devices to support them, Apple has is coming late to the video game, and has way more competition. I seriously doubt that the content providers, whose business model is based around bundling channels, are going going to get any more comfortable with Apple’s vision of an à la carte future anytime soon.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has very quietly been sewing up these kinds of deals for years. They’ve been joined at the hip with NBC Universal (and now Comcast) since the early ’90s when they launched MSNBC, they were the first to launch cable box apps on a non-cable box, and now rumor has it that the Xbox 720 will be subsidized by cable companies the way telecoms subsidize cell phones. Apple simply does not have the ecosystem in place, nor the experience, to support these kinds of services at this time.
Time will tell how all of this plays out, of course, but I think the best Apple can hope for is launching its iTV with some apps from different channels, allowing for in-app purchasing of shows and maybe some exclusive bonus material, but nothing even remotely resembling the death of cable TV.