If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Apple Inc. has been talking with some of the biggest U.S. cable operators, including Time Warner Cable, about teaming up for a new device for live television and online video content, according to a new report.
Unnamed sources tell The Wall Street Journal that while no deals have yet been reached, Apple is eyeing a similar kind of deal to the one it struck with mobile wireless providers for its line of iPhones. In theory, the cable operators would offer content and data services for an Apple-made device loaded with Apple software.
The report said it’s unclear whether the device in question would be a new technology embedded into televisions, a set-top box or an updated version of Apple TV, an existing Apple device that allows users to access Web video on their television sets, but not cable TV content.
The sources said that Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt at the annual Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho last month. They also mentioned Time Warner Cable as one of the cable companies in talks with Apple.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the story.
If the sources are correct, it would appear that Apple -- by teaming with cable operators instead of trying to license content directly from broadcasters and cable networks -- is not pursuing the U.S. television market with the same boldness with which it went after the major record labels in the past.
Of course, cable providers and media companies are reluctant to see Apple dominate the television industry the same way it has come to dominate digital music.
According to the sources, Apple has been in talks with cable operators about partnering on a set-top box for years, but the cable companies have been put off by Apple’s demands for a 30 percent cut on certain transactions going through the box. Partnering with Apple would reduce the amount the cable operators spend buying set-top boxes, the sources said.