“Apple Inc. is in talks with some of the biggest U.S. cable operators about letting consumers use an Apple device as a set-top box for live television and other content, according to people familiar with the matte,” Jessica E. Vascellaro and Shalini Ramachandran report for The Wall Street Journal. “Apple doesn’t appear to have reached a deal with any cable operators. One obstacle may be the reluctance of operators to let Apple establish a foothold in the television business.”

“Apple would also need to persuade significant numbers of consumers to buy a set-top box for what could be hundreds of dollars rather than rent one from their cable operators for $10 to $15 a month,” Vascellaro and Ramachandran report. “By building a set-top box that could be used with cable operators, Apple would be following a similar playbook that it used to transform the mobile-phone industry: convincing existing service providers to marry their service with Apple’s hardware and software.”

Vascellaro and Ramachandran report, “Apple sells a $99 Apple TV box that lets users access some Internet video on their television sets, but not live channels supplied by cable operators. Whether the device under discussion is an iteration of that hardware or a more sophisticated box is unclear. Two people briefed on the matter said the technology involved could ultimately be embedded in a television.”

Much more in the full article here.

“Apple keeps poking at the TV industrial complex, and keeps concluding that it’s better off playing along than playing a new game,” Peter Kafka writes for AllThingsD. “To spell that out: If Apple really wanted to change the way people watched TV, it would change the way people paid for TV. And that would involve setting up new arrangements with the people who make TV content.”

“But Apple can’t do that — either because the content guys don’t want to change the way their business works, or Apple isn’t willing to pay enough to make them change. Or both,” Kafka writes. “The result is the same: If you want to use a theoretical Apple TV of the future, you’re still going to end up paying someone a monthly fee for a bundle of channels, the majority of which you don’t watch… You can argue that this is terrible for consumers (because they subsidize waste), or that it’s great for consumers (because all the other consumers subsidize their favorite programs). But it’s a model that has proven very hard to dislodge.”

Kafka writes, “It’s fun to imagine a world where Apple helps get you your TV, and it’s very likely that an Apple TV experience would be much better than the cable TV experience you have now. Imagine ditching that craptastic TV guide for a sleek one designed by Jony Ive!”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]