updated 10:32 pm EDT, Wed August 15, 2012
Tim Cook allegedly meeting with industry-leading cable companies
According to "sources familiar with the matter," Apple is in discussions with the largest cable operators in the US to allow an Apple device, such as an Apple TV, to be used as a cable box for watching live television and other content. No deals appear to have been made at this time. The move would represent something of a sea change in Apple's strategy, with a more cooperative approach to media distribution, as opposed to the current licensing model with the the iTunes ecosystem.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Time Warner Cable's chief executive Glenn Britt in Idaho last month during a media conference. Cable executives have said in the past that Apple TV's poor market penetration makes live television streaming a low priority and have placed more emphasis on content delivery to the more popular iPad and iPhone.
Another potential stumbling block to the deal is Apple's current 30 percent share of transactions initiated through an Apple device. Apple also reportedly wants exclusivity from partners, while requiring the cable companies to service any Apple-produced device. Reports aren't clear if the discussions are focused on the current or future iteration of the Apple TV, or a device embedded in an Apple-branded television set.
Cook said during the last Apple earnings conference call that he believes Apple TV "will lead us somewhere" but so far hasn't elaborated on the comment. Apple TV sales have increased since its release in 2007. Apple has sold 2.7 million of the devices this fiscal year, surpassing last year's sales with the year being just over half complete. Despite its "hobby" status, the Apple TV captured 32 percent of the Internet-ready set-top box market in 2011.