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Apple’s quest to control the living room may involve a significant deal with Comcast.
Apple is reportedly in negotiations with the cable giant to offer live and on-demand content on its set-top boxes, the Wall Street Journal reports. The news follows reports from February about Apple discussing a similar service with Time Warner Cable (which Comcast is in the process of acquiring).
On the surface, the deal sounds similar to what TV operators offer to other companies: Comcast already has an app for the Xbox 360; Time Warner cables offers live TV on Roku devices; and Verizon just launched an app for the Xbox One. Cable and satellite companies are increasingly looking for ways to give their customers access to their content on a wide variety of devices. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see cable companies offer their apps on current and future Apple TVs.
But it also sounds like Apple is aiming to go a step further than other companies that offer TV operator apps. As the WSJ notes, Apple is pushing Comcast to treat the service the same as its own on-demand video and Internet phone service, allowing it to avoid the crowded lines that the public Internet passes through. That would ensure that the service functions as smoothly as Comcast’s official service.
Additionally, Apple is pushing to maintain control of the customers who log into the Comcast app, and it’s also asking for a cut of Comcast’s subscription fees. This seems reminiscent of how Apple pushed mobile carriers for more control over their customers. Before the iPhone, carriers typically managed their own app stores, for example.
Since the negotiations seem to be very early, Apple may not end up getting any of its demands. But as cable operators like Comcast become more eager to keep existing customers and grab new ones, I wouldn’t rule it out. A deal like this certainly makes a lot more sense than those rumors of Apple getting into the television set business.