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One analyst thinks this is the year for Apple to do for TV what it did for the music industry
Everyone knows that Apple is a company highly invested in delivering disruptive technology, forgoing conventional models of competition by redefining industries from the ground up. According to one analyst, Apple might be looking to shake things up once again in the streaming content/television set-top box game in 2012.
Apple's content streaming television set-top box Apple TV might be getting a significant makeover in 2012, one which combines the user control of DVR with the Internet connectivity to online sources of streaming content like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
The current iteration of the Apple TV set-top box allows users to download material from iTunes, stream Netflix, access photos from Flickr, and watch videos on YouTube and Vimeo, among other features. However, because of a lack of licensing agreements, users still cannot watch live broadcast or cable television programs on their Apple TV set-tops.
Shaw Wu, an analyst with brokerage firm Sterne Agee, believes that just such a product is on the horizon. In a recent report Wu states that, based on "press reports out of Taiwan/Asia-Pacific of such products shipping in Q2 and Q3 of 2012," we could possibly see a cloud-based Apple TV system, which allows users to combine the strongest elements of current iterations with that all-important missing live TV factor.
"We continue to hear what Apple would love to do is offer users the ability to choose their owncustomized programming," writes Wu, in his report, "i.e., whichever channels/shows theywant for a monthly subscription fee... In our view, [this] would change the game for television and give Apple a big leg-up against the competition."
The creation of an cloud-based, TV box-top set could be an important step in closing of the gap between corporate distributors of live broadcast entertainment products and cloud-based distribution. This newest Apple TV could combine the playlist features inherent to current versions of user-archived digital content, like DVR and mp3 playlists, with the live interaction of social networking.
Right now, people interact on Twitter while watching television. But would it be too far-feteched to imagine a platform that allows users to watch live broadcasts of telelvision and interact about what they're watching?
Also, rather than "channels" being determined by media outlets, users could group their own content and then socialize accordingly live as it happens, within the media system itself. The end result could look like something like the Netflix rating, where logarithms determine what kind of content the user would like based on their ratings, except on crack.
The implications in advertising alone are kind of mind-blowing. Then again, what Apple TV has in mind may something completely different. Whatever happens, the merging of the television world and the Internet world by a company such as Apple is sure to be interesting.
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