Apple set-top box said to erase distinction between live and on-demand content

“Apple Inc.’s vision for a new device that can be used as a set-top box includes features designed to simplify accessing and viewing programming and erase the distinction between live and on-demand content, people briefed on Apple’s plans said,” Jessica E. Vascellaro and Sam Schechner report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The Cupertino, Calif.-based company proposes giving viewers the ability to start any show at any time through a digital-video recorder that would store TV shows on the Internet,” Vascellaro and Schechner report. “Viewers even could start a show minutes after it has begun… Another significant feature of the Apple set-top device is likely to be its user interface, which could resemble the navigation icons on Apple’s iPad. While the design may change, the interface is expected to be easier for people to use than existing cable on-screen menus, widely viewed as clunky. Apple’s device also may create space on the TV screen for social media features, such as sharing TV shows through services like Twitter Inc., the people said. Apple also wants users to be able to access content from the device on other Apple products like iPhones and iPads.”

Vascellaro and Schechner report, “Apple wants viewers to be able to access all episodes of current seasons of TV shows, whereas existing video on demand services from cable operators generally often offer only a few episodes of a current season. Apple’s proposed device would also provide access to older seasons of shows, which are already available through Apple’s iTunes media store.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The post-DVR era can’t arrive soon enough. Bring it on!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Apple in talks with U.S. cable operators over transforming Apple TV into set-top box for live television – August 16, 2012


  1. The next step, though, if all this is to replace cable, is to drastically lower the price of TV-shows. My cable subscription is around €13/mo (not counting phone and internet connectivity), that’s $16/240hrs, supposing I watch cable 8hrs/day. On average, for the right to watch I pay 7cents/hr. An average TV show is less than an hour. An average movie is 2-3hrs. It looks like charging 2-5$/show or movie is hugely overpriced. It should be closer to 7cents/hour. Obviously it could be more for prime content, where 25cents/hour seems a good compromise. Let the slaughter begin.

    1. If you watch 2 hours of commercial TV a day you are already killing brain cells!!! That’s only 80 minutes of entertainment and 40 minutes of brainwashing and madness.

      I have not had HBO/Showrime in more than 10 years. It used to be that I paid $16 for about 4 movies a month that I was interested in watching.

      I suspect this still holds true.

      So, in today’s dollars, paying $4-$5 per 90 minutes or 120 minutes of entertainment is a bargain. IMHO.

      Cancel your cable. Just use iTune. But, Live content is an issue and controlled by the likes of Comcast.

      It makes no difference if you buy from Comcast or buy from iTunes, it costs the same.

      If you watch so much that you think PPV is expensive, you should be doing more homework…turn off the tube.

  2. Boy, are they way off on this one! Apple has Siri for a reason. Sure, you’ll probably be able to default to icons if you want them, but it’s easier to SAY “Siri, give me a listing of the five most recent James Cameron action films” or “give me a listing of any home repair show aired in 2007 featuring Mike Holmes”. Once Siri finds what you’re looking for, you would say, “Siri, play item number four”.

    My guess is that the “revelation” that came to Steve was to eliminate the need for on-screen channels and directories by just telling Siri what it is you’re looking for. It’s really sad these writers haven’t figured out that scrolling through 500 channels to find something you like is what people hate most about their cable/satellite providers.

    1. Yup, i already have a hard time justifying an ATV in my country, where Netflix is just something we’ve heard about. If this rumour is correct, an xbox or playstation really does become a better deal.

    1. News. Breaking situations. The finest hours of TV in my own memory were the coverage (live) of JFK’s funeral, the coverage (live) of the moon landing, and the coverage (live) of the Chicago Democratic Convention. TV is at its absolute best when it’s live.

  3. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company proposes giving viewers the ability to start any show at any time through a digital-video recorder that would store TV shows on the Interne ,… Viewers even could start a show minutes after it has begun

    Uhhh… I hate to break Apple’s heart, but this is hardly revolutionary. My cable box from Time Warner gives me all of that functionality. As long as the channel supports it, I can restart shows I come to late or catch shows I missed. And the on-demand feature caches about a month’s worth of almost every popular show. I’m watching an Ice Road Truckers from 3 weeks ago right now.


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