For several years, Apple has tarried with the living room environment via Apple TV. As self proclaimed “hobby,” the tech giant, until recently, has played off its interest in furthering control in the standing household entertainment center. However, many rumors continue to swirl about an upcoming, and unannounced device.
The Apple TV is now in excess of a billion dollar market for Apple, which hardly qualifies it as a small side job. Over the past six months, Apple has added channels to the increasingly expansive offering. Additionally, there are talks about the potential for a dedicated App Store to release, which could allow users, among many other things, to play games on the set top box.
Most interestingly, a recent report from the Wall Street Journal indicates Apple is in conversations with Comcast about allowing Apple customers to directly access stored cloud information from an upcoming, or existing, hardware unit. According to the WSJ, Apple’s hardware would “get special treatment on Comcast’s cables to ensure it bypasses congestion on the Web.” Essentially, Apple customers would be granted a type of backdoor capability to prevent low bandwidth issues other users experience.
In the middle of a deep net neutrality argument, Apple is specifically asking Comcast to grant special access to alternative, and faster, areas of the World Wide Web. For example, other customers seeking to watch streaming content via a Windows based computer or gaming console, would receive that signal through standard internet channels. However, if Apple and Comcast are able to strike a deal, the Apple TV may receive streaming downloads at extremely faster rates, simply because the requesting device is produced by Apple.
Presumedly, Apple is seeking this special exception from Comcast, as the ISP has the largest U.S. customer base. Moreover, Comcast is currently in an acquisition of another top provider, Time Warner Cable, although the merger is not yet approved by the government. If Apple and Comcast strike a deal, it could potentially give Comcast the ability to even gain subscribers in alternative markets, furthering Comcast’s reach to previously unprecendented number of customers.
Notably, the conversations are still in the very early stages and both Apple and Comcast declined for comments when pressed by the media. The underlying question for typical customer is: will viewers still need to have a cable television plan to access the content. For example, to use current apps like “Watch ABC” and “Watch ESPN,” customers must have a cable television package. With a new Apple device on the horizon and Comcast in the mix, perhaps cable television subscriptions will be old news. Customers, in the near future, may simply be able to pay for broadband cable internet access, then make all a la carte purchases for stand alone channels.
Naturally, this information includes many projections and speculations. “Presumedly” and “potentially” are big red flags through these conversations being covered by main stream media. Take all current rumors with a heavy dose of salt, until you hear Apple make a dedicated announcement. Until then, it is nice to think about only paying for personally desired television content, instead of 100+ channels of alternative programming.
[Source: USA Today]