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To iTV or not to iTV - the key Apple question

By PETER WHITE

Published: 18 May, 2012

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There is a possibility of Apple launching a subscription TV service and a new TV device - the iTV as it is called. Investors want Apple to spread out of mobile into new markets. The 700 million pay TV subscribers around the world, spending $billions, make OTT subscription TV seem a logical next step. And it is.

But a move like this is only a really good one for Apple if it can combine a content service with a new device - otherwise Apple might just end up launching something as tame as Google TV

So can it launch a new device complete with TV content? We can see clearly that this is unlikely - broadcasters, cable TV networks and studios all stand to lose key relationship they rely on with pay TV operators, if they collaborate with Apple. Certainly the major US broadcasters and studios have rebuffed Apple repeatedly when both founder Steve Job and CEO Tim Cook went courting.

Apple gets content, but only for iTunes and only for resale as a digital file, what no-one among the majors is keen to do is help it create a rival service for pay TV operators like cable company Comcast, and DTH service DirecTV.

There is the additional problem that in order to build a TV, Apple needs to buy into a top of the range screen technology. The best place to buy that right now is Samsung, a company that Apple is suing in a number of countries - but which remains a key supplier to Apple, almost too key. If Apple could buy a superior screen from Samsung, it could set up in business against Samsung and bite the hand that feeds it. So that's not going to happen.

With no component superiority and insufficient content, what incentive does Apple really have to re-invent the TV viewing model.

The best it could do is come out with a cool new product, of interest to existing Apple fans, but without a compelling enough service behind it to change the TV viewing landscape and that just won't do it for Apple investors.

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