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Liberty TV chief: 'I don't think Apple is going to build a TV'

updated 01:12 am EDT, Wed September 25, 2013

CEO Mike Fries rubbed shoulders with Cook, Cue at Sun Valley confab

The CEO of one of the world's largest cable companies has told analysts at an investment conference in New York that he doesn't believe Apple is going to produce an actual HDTV as has been speculated for years -- debunking predictions from proponents such as Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald and champion of the cause Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray. If anyone would know Apple's actual plans, Liberty Global chief Mike Fries would be strong candidate, as he and other TV execs met with Apple CEO Tim Cook among others at a recent conference.

Fries, along with an assortment of big names in the television industry, held networking meetings and sessions with tech executives from a broad range of tech industry leaders, including Cook and Apple's "dealmaker general," SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue. The Sun Valley conference gave Apple officers an opportunity to conduct negotiations and make deals away from the glare of the media spotlight.

Fries told analysts that Apple is talking to US cable providers more about pay-TV services, specifically with an eye to revamping the interface to better let users manage, discover and buy content, presumably through the company's Apple TV set-top box, which is increasingly replacing conventional television and cable offerings with its mix of Internet-based and specialty TV channels, combined with special events such as this month's iTunes Festival in London -- which every current iOS device, including Apple TV, can see for free.

Apple's efforts, like Google's and other competitors, have mostly been focused integrating more Internet content and services into televisions. With companies like Roku and Apple, the augmenting set-top box has been its main offering. For Google, it has found some success in integrating various Google services into "smart" TVs that can also incorporate other services like Netflix and Vimeo as easily as they can host YouTube, simple web browsing and shopping, or typical digital cable television channels.

An example of the type of negotiations Fries may be referring to comes from reports that Apple has been talking to Time Warner Cable to give its subscribers access to its cable channels directly through Apple TV, replacing the "cable box" and opening up the possibility of a-la-carte cable plans -- where users pay only for channels or other content offerings they want, no longer subsidizing other channels they don't watch. Such a move in and of itself would be highly disruptive to TV content producers, but may also increase both interest and profits among cable providers.

Apple has already struck deals with Walt Disney Company's ESPN and Time Warner's HBO to allow current subscribers cross-device access to the networks' content, across most current iOS devices and Apple TV. Other rumors have speculated that Apple may be planning to revamp the diminutive set-top box to accommodate considerable future expansion.

The iPhone maker may be offering providers and content developers alike a proposal similar to the model adopted by the BBC in making its content available to a global audience: the service, which formerly relied solely on broadcast sales and local licenses in the UK to support its costs, created a "Global iPlayer" app that offers a flat $80 per year subscription for almost all BBC and associated content that is able to viewed on demand on computers and mobile devices alike.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. kerryb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-05-01

    I agree that Apple will not be making a TV but will be a deliver of content through an possibly expanded AppleTV device. If you look at the low margins on TVs combined with the vast styles and screen sizes I don't see Apple going into a mature and over crowed market as this.

  1. lvavila

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-21-11

    If anything, Apple may somehow integrate with a DirectTv or alike. Content on the internet is simply not a 1:1 when it comes to company like Cox, Dish & DirectTv. Im not so sure the opportunity of Apple having the same effect on the TV industry as it had with the phone. Cell phone manufacturers got complacent with flooded stuff, whereas the TV industry keeps attempting to push the technology (thinner, larger, crisper, 3d, etc). But content to the living room is still right as no-one has gotten it right. It would be nice even to plug my DirectTv into an Apple device to control TV giving Apple a way to rework the UI. THen the other question, do touch TVs make sense? I prefer my remote but maybe that where Wii & XBox step in allowing hand motions. (sorry, too much brain dump).

  1. bdmarsh

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-17-06

    Apple won't talk to the cable companies, only the content creators for deals. They want to break away from the Channel concept into something that makes it easier to find the content you want when you want it.

    In the short term getting anything on the AppleTV just helps both, but I think the eventual goal is a complete TV industry shakeup.

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