Hot on the heels of Microsoft’s deal to add full-on live TV support to the Xbox 360 thanks to Time Warner, Bloomberg has it that Apple is closing in on a similar deal for Apple TV. Apple has long been rumored to be pursuing app-based cable service for its all-but-certain iTV, and it seems like Time Warner is in an expansionist mood when it comes to online services:
A deal with Time Warner Cable would be a first with a cable company for Apple, which said last month that it’s also adding content from Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s HBO and Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ESPN. Apple is aiming to bolster sales of the $99 set-top box amid competition from Roku Inc.’s device and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Xbox. Meanwhile, media and service providers have been seeking more outlets to deliver shows to customers, who are opting for on-demand viewing and watching fewer scheduled shows.
“It’s not necessary for Apple to remake the media industry to sell a great TV product,” Benedict Evans, an analyst at Enders Analysis in London, said in an interview. “They are methodically adding to Apple TV.”
Translation: Apple, like Microsoft before it, and maybe Intel after it, has been unable to secure the kinds of deals needed to make an IP-based cable system a reality, so instead it’s looking at going with the flow and making its box attractive to partners rather than trying to be the boss. With Microsoft’s Xbox 360 rumored to be stripped down soon to under $150 or even $99 to compete directly with Apple TV, Apple needs to strike now to avoid losing the ground in the media box market. We’ll see how this all plays out over the next year or so, and frankly I think the consumer is going to be the one who benefits in the end.