Apple Reportedly Chatting Up Its TV Plans

The definition of television, and the business models that make it possible, are changing as fast as a weak primetime lineup, report the Wall Street Journal’s Jessica E. Vascellaro and Sam Schechner, and Apple is reportedly getting closer to throwing another monkey wrench into the creaky machinery that is as dated as a Sunday night appointment with “Bonanza.”

Apple has been discussing its plans with media executives, although no content deals have been cut, and it appears that one major feature of the developing technology would be to allow users to download content once but view it on multiple devices by bringing it into its iCloud.

“Apple is one of a number of companies rushing to re-imagine TV by making it resemble watching video on devices like computers and tablets,” write Vascellaro and Schechner. “Like Apple, these companies are taking the approach of trying to tie together the multitude of devices consumers use daily but that don't currently talk to each other.”



Technology that would allow users to control these devices through Siri voice commands “may take longer than some of its other ideas,” according to the piece. That might be the best thing that could ever happen to it, if you agree with ZDnet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who writes a provocative piece headlined, “It's not 'Apple TV' any more, it's 'Siri TV' ... ugh ...”

That sentiment would run counter to Jamie Condliffe’s on Gizmodo: “It seems likely that all Apple devices could soon be controlled by Siri -- and why stop there? If Siri soon works like it should, there's pretty much no limit to what it can be used for. I wanna see a house controlled by Siri; I want my car to respond accurately to my command; I don't want to touch a keyboard ever, ever again.”

Apple is reportedly working on a new TV device that could deliver these innovations but it’s not clear if it would be the cornerstone to the company’s strategy or not. The current Apple TV set-top box, which retails for $99 and offers access to everything from HD movie rentals via Netflix to MLB games to access to your personal iTunes and iPhoto content, reportedly is a good seller, although Apple has not released recent figures.

“What’s interesting –- though perhaps unexpected –- is that many of Apple’s plans could well be delivered with an updated Apple TV, the existing $99 [set-top box] that offers streaming access to iTunes rentals and purchased content in iCloud,” observes Slashgears Chris Davies. “Thatopens the door for both options to remain on sale, rather than the Apple television set killing off the Apple TV; those with lower budgets may have to get used to reduced functionality in the updated Apple TV, however, so that the Cupertino company can keep rights-holders happy.”

As innovative as Apple may be, there are some who fear that it may be too imperial for its own -- and consumers’, suppliers’ and competitors’ -– good.

The New York Times’ Jenna Wortham reports that Apple will begin its annual holiday break from accepting new apps in its tightly controlled App Store this Thursday. The eight-day hiatus has developers in a frenzy to complete new apps in time to be on the digital display shelf for Christmas. Sales can multiply like, well, like smartphone apps at this time of year.

“It is hard to begrudge Apple for wanting to give its employees a break,” Wortham writes. “But the App Store freeze at Christmas, and the crunch time leading up to it, underscore Apple’s power in the world of mobile apps and the lengths developers are willing to go to meet its demands. In short, Apple is a powerful gatekeeper, and for more than a week it is keeping the gate closed.”

At the risk of being a party to Apple’s alleged flaunting of Samsung’s patent on text emoticons (but only if you’re readying this on a mobile device), the latter’s latest court action brings a decided sense of “Σ(;).” to the Los Angeles Times’ David Sarno. Samsung says it owns the rights to prefabricated emoticon strings that allow users to the sentiment with a single touch.

“Believe it or not, Samsung does indeed own a patent on smartphone use of emoticons…,” Sarno writes. “The bizarreness of two global electronics powerhouses fighting over emoticons is only deepened when you see that the symbols at issue are not the newfangled illustrated and colorful emoticons you see in apps like this, but rather the old-fashioned parentheses-and-colon kind that many of us have come to abhor.”

How else to keep attorney’s (and pundits) fat and :-)?

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