This isn’t the Apple TV that Steve Jobs ‘finally cracked’ – or is it?

“Can this be what Steve Jobs had in mind when he said he ‘finally cracked it?'” Brian R. Fitzgerald wonders for The Wall Street Journal. “Apple is in talks to revamp the TV set-top box, relying on cable providers for programming rights rather than competing against them. At the same time, various reports put a new Apple TV device on shelves as early as June or possibly in time for the holidays, and cite references to a new iteration in builds for iOS 7. Whether the set-top box is the next version of Apple TV or a separate device for a different audience, the latest chatter seems like quite a comedown from the hopes that Apple would disrupt the TV industry with a game-changing experience.”

“It’s looking less like a TV-sized Mac with the world’s most advanced TV tuner or an iTunes approach to a debundled programming landscape, and more like a glossier interface on the same-old cable experience,” Fitzgerald writes. “What if the next Apple TV is the new set-top box that plays ball with cable? That’d likely be enough for people who already drop $99 for what comes with today’s Apple TV: content apps from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, PBS, Disney, HBO and more, all under one roof, plus some mirroring and streaming from other Apple devices. Many of those apps, like WatchESPN or Disney XD, for example, require a cable subscription anyway.”

Fitzgerald writes, “Going from two devices — a DVR/cable box and an Apple TV — to one that does everything those boxes currently do, employs Apple’s superior interface and perhaps adds in Siri-like voice commands and makes any channel a ‘home-screen’ app — well that would get us pretty close to what Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, when he said he ‘cracked’ the TV nut.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Or maybe Steve, ever the master marketeer, simply added that little nugget in order to help Wrong Choice Walter move some books?

Related articles:
Apple in talks to revamp Apple TV set top box; scaled-back plans would rely on cable providers – February 13, 2014
Steve Jobs’ told biographer: ‘I finally cracked’ the secret to an easy-to-use integrated HDTV – October 21, 2011


  1. I fear, Steve made a statement, with thoughts he took with him before sharing…

    Look, he could be wrong. It’s not like he was right about everything. There could be no solution.

    But I hope Apple has something up their sleeve, they are just messing with us until they are ready for the big reveal.

        1. I don’t think you can just take for granted there is a solution to any given problem but in the case of TV as far as Apple are concerned its far more likely that SJ had a pretty clear idea of what it should be but not the control over the ingredients to force it through.

    1. If you could reset the whole cable TV industry back to zero then I’ll bet Jobs could have really made something great out of that but there are many inherent obstacles from other companies who have no vested interest in making them easier and better for the consumer. Just their own greedy ends.

      I have faith Apple will crack it on their terms eventually.

    2. “The problem with innovation in the television industry is the go to market strategy. The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everybody a set top box for free, or for $10 a month. And that pretty much squashes innovation because no one is willing to buy a set top box. Ask TiVo. Ask Replay TV. Ask Roku, Ask Vudu, Ask us, Ask Google in a few months. Sony’s tried, panasonic’s tried, we’ve all tried. So, all you can do is add a box onto the TV system. You can say … I’ll add another little box with another one You end up with a table full of remotes, cluster full of boxes, bunch of UIs. The only way that’s ever gonna change is if you really go back toy square one and you tear up the set top box and design it with a consistent UI and deliver it to the customer in a way they’re willing to pay for it. right now there;s no way to do that. so that’s the problem with the TV market…

      …It’s not a problem of technology, it’s not a problem of vision, it’s a fundamental go-to-market problem.”

      -Steve Jobs at the D8 AllThingsD D8 Conference

  2. Whatever the feature was that made Steve proclaim that he had cracked it, there’s a good chance that it wouldn’t be obvious by looking at the hardware, just as the revolutionary 64 bit iPhone 6 looks so much like previous iPhones that those who studied illicit pre-production photographs didn’t get a clue about what was really happening.

  3. Fitzgerald could have dumped this article in the hopper on Friday to mark the end of his week’s news cycle and took off early with his lover. Now methinks he has none.

    “the latest chatter seems like quite a comedown from the hopes that Apple would disrupt the TV industry”

    Only in your mind Fitzgerald. Your personal perspective about Apple affairs is a wet blanket.

    Perhaps because you can’t imagine what Apple might be up to five-years ago, when they began to reshape their vision for content delivery, that didn’t involve a television at all, but a server that would combine the TV, Airport, and Time Capsule and Mac mini into a sophisticated and timeless design with modish controls to shift time.

    Apple has developed a product to compete with PS4 & Xbox.

    Apple’s new “home Mac” will eclipse anything Microsoft and Sony has in their skunkworks due to Apple’s head start these past five-years.

    A television isn’t a device upon which to build a legacy, considering those big boxy products will disappear in the next five-years, replaced with monitors sans bezel. But a “home computer” running a hybrid OS X/iOS configuration playing games, movies, and radio over broadband will give Apple enough time to launch several satellites, after which they’ll flip a switch, and cut the cable.

    Welcome to Space, the final Interface.

    If I’m even close in my ramblings, then I would expect to see an OSX/iOS hybrid named after Birds!, or something close to it.

    An OS ready for flight. Buckle up!

  4. Maybe there is another angle to this – there was no way that Apple was going to unravel all the bundling of cable channels in one fell swoop and provide content direct from studio to viewer.

    However, if they come up with a cool interface that works that can tie in to your existing cable/satellite provider, then that provides Apple with all kinds of viewing data that it can use to go directly to the studio channel to ink deals with them.

    Every time a contract comes up for renewal, Apple gets put on the table. In a few years, the landscape changes to a more of a pay-as-you-go or a la carte rather than the worthless bundling today.

  5. nothing has been cracked if it doesn’t have live tv, especially live sports. I know you can use an antenna, but nothing cracked if you can’t tune in your local news our watch your local broadcast of an NFL game. Plus you need to be able to go up and down with the channels to watch your favorite cable channels.

    on-demand viewing isn’t really cabletv

  6. Fine! What are they going to do about those of us who happen to live in rural areas and have jackass providers like Dish. For Example, we have one of the high end Dish programming packages and we cannot login to Watch ESPN because (who know) Dish isn’t on their list of providers. We are paying good money for this service and cannot get it. If Apple is going to get in bed with cable companies they need to protect the people in rural areas by making jackass companies like Dish be a provider of their services. Same happens with ABC … which we get off the air and also via Dish. This is NOT RIGHT!

    1. personally i think satellite dish is doomed in the future. IPTV is where its going to be at. as for rural people, if a company can get you cabletv via a cable/fiber line or wirelessly , you won’t even care about dish/directv anymore

      1. Cabled internet is commercially viable in well populated areas, but when it comes to rural areas, it can become very expensive to run a dedicated cable to a distant house.

        Internet service providers are commercial companies and they will not be worried about overlooking homes that are too expensive to connect.

        A workable and commercially viable solution is still needed for those who live in relatively remote areas.

      2. Ed, unfortunately, the cable companies and internet providers both refuse to provide true broadband (read fiber) service unless you are in one of the small rural communities. If you live out in the country you are told that it’s not cost effective. Cox has a fiber line running three inches outside my property line along the U. S. Highway 54 right away and I asked them about tapping it and they said it would cost 20,000 dollars to run a line out from the neared community. They don’t want to be bothered with rural customers. Unfortunately, that leaves Dish or Direct TV and they don’t provide internet service except satellite which has a terrible 800 ms latency. Fortunately, I am only 11,000 feed from the Central Office in the nearest community so I am paying for 6 MB DSL service. That is on the extreme fringe of 6 MB DSL and my connection has dropped down to about 4.4 MB now. I need to get ATT to clean up the line again.

        You add insult to injury when you consider we pay high fees to support rural infrastructure.

  7. Job’s “I finally cracked it.” may be the modern day equivalent of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Will we have to wait 350+ years for a someone to let the rest of us in on the solution?

    We’ll just have to wait and see.

  8. I’d rather they turn the Apple TV into something that’s also worthwhile owning for those outside the USA. At the moment the only use I would have for it is sharing stuff from my iPad. Everything else it offers is already on my Blu-Ray player, which also has a whole bunch of content that Apple don’t carry.

  9. In a perfect world, Apple would design and build a set top box that would accept feeds from all content providers. The software would be intuitive, billing would be seamless, all would be bliss.

    It’s not a perfect world.

  10. I must be missing something. I can buy most TV shows and loads of movies using my new MacBook Pro with the HMDT (or whatever it’s called) cable plugged into it and my TV input. What is the advantage of owning an iTV?

  11. Why don’t they make Apple TV the Amazon of Content…wrap the app store/tv apps/game apps into one central store. You download each channels apps and pay for content or subscriptions like in app purchases. Apple takes a cut…content provider…Comcast/Viacom whoever gets their cut for each in app purchase Apple takes their cut. Everybody makes more and the content survives or dies based on value to consumer. If you want live ESPN then pay in the ESPN app a $3.99 monthly fee for that channel or whatever they feel they can get. Whoever distributes the channel feed then gets a share and pays ESPN or charges them?? whatever the case is. Advertisers pay ESPN and everyone who cares gets day/week/month/year according to options provided by the distributor. If they get greedy then less people by the option. Point is they would make more money and the providers of content would be accountable for their own success. No one downloads the Oprah Winfrey Network app then OWN makes no money. Using this model someone who has to have 500 channels every day of every year and 200 radio stations commercial free and 50 Premium Channels will have a bill of several thousand $$ per month. Someone who really uses maybe 25 channels a month will pay between 75 and 100$ That is the model that will work and people who like MSNBC or FOX will have apps, people who like Tattoos will have channels, NASCAR will have an app/channel. Give consumers those types of choices will bring the cream of content to the top in a hurry. Independents could also thrive and become discovered directly by the people and not the programmers of traditional content offerings. At some point every major corporation of any significance will have their own apps and provide customized content down to the small business level. Distributors of products from Agora sweaters to Windshield Wipers will have content they want to provide. The internet will be the power that unlocks the potential of all of this and Apple will have a way to make this all come together. It is definitely GREED and POLITICS that keeps this simple solution from materializing in the very near term.

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