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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is reportedly in talks with several major cable providers to allow subscribers to use its set-top box to view live television and other video content. No deal has been reached, with the cable companies staying wary of an agreement just yet because of the potential of losing their power to the tech company, according to The WSJ.
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Apple has reportedly even expressed interest in being an exclusive provider of set-top boxes using internet protocol technology. The new technology detailed by the company could even eventually fit right inside a television set. Apple chief executive Tim Cook met with Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) chief executive Glenn Britt last month during the annual media conference hosted by Allen & Co. Time Warner Cable is said to be one of the operators talking to Apple.
At the moment, the company’s $99 Apple TV streams content from iTunes, Hulu (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube, and a few other sources, and from compatible devices like the iPad over AirPlay, but not live TV.
If Apple were to strike a deal, it would face the challenge of changing the accepted norm of subscribers renting their set-top boxes directly from a cable provider for a nominal fee into having them buy it outright. TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO), which sells a similar set-top box, has so far not made a very big impact on the market. Apple will also be concerned about the fact that entertainment companies own most of what is broadcast, and not the cable operators.
The iPhone maker sold 1.3 million Apple TVs during the last quarter, up 170 percent year-to-year. The total number of Apple TVs sold in the 2012 fiscal year through the end of the June quarter was 4 million units, with a total installed base of 6.8 million.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) apparently toyed with the idea of a cable box for two years before late co-founder Steve Jobs decided to drop the plan.
Shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) closed higher 1.85% at $648.11 per share Friday.
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