What Does Apple Want With Rovi?
As it exists today, Apple TV is still “the hobby” that Steve Jobs first described it as at our D5 conference three years ago. Jobs described it that way again earlier this month at the company’s annual fall music and media event. But with the recent updates given it, it’s clear that the device is evolving into something more than that, though it’s not yet clear what. Today comes another piece to add to the puzzle: A multi-year agreement with Rovi, a company whose technology includes in-home and mobile entertainment programming guides, networked entertainment experiences (think device-to-device media synching ), digital copy protection and media recognition and differentiation (this is an audio file from a Sony CD, this is a file from a Warner Bros. DVD).
The SEC filing revealing the deal between the two companies is about as brief as they come and its terms are confidential, so it’s impossible to say definitively what Apple (AAPL) is after here. Given Rovi’s business, though, it seems likely that Apple is after the same interactive television program guides the company licenses to digital cable/satellite providers and set-top box manufacturers. Certainly, that’s Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster’s theory. “We believe this announcement is further evidence that Apple is developing live TV and DVR features for its Apple TV product, and will likely launch an all-in-one Apple Television in the next 2-4 years,” he said in a note to clients today.
Makes sense, right? Of course it could also just as easily be evidence that Apple is planning to add device-to-device media synching to its hardware. Or simply an indication that Rovi holds a core patent in some area that Apple’s working in.