John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple Television Launch Probably Not Imminent

Now that the iPad mini has successfully transitioned from rumor to reality, Apple-watchers are turning their attention back to another of the company’s mythical products — the Apple Television. According to a new report out of Jefferies, Apple’s much-rumored breakthrough TV is not only in the company’s product pipeline, it’s nearly out of it.

Jefferies & Co.’s James Kisner says at least one major cable operator is conducting tests to determine if it could handle the sort of bandwidth demands that a full-fledged, connected Apple HDTV might generate.

“Our discussions with industry contacts suggest that at least one major North American multiple system operator is working to estimate how much additional capacity may be needed for a new Apple device on their broadband data network,” Kisner wrote in a note to clients. “We believe this potentially suggests an imminent launch of the Apple TV.”

At least part of that sentence makes sense. Back in August, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was “in talks with some of the biggest U.S. cable operators” about partnerships.

More recently, Time Warner Cable COO Rob Marcus told attendees of the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference that the company would consider selling TV subscriptions using third-party technology, even if “in some of those cases that may mean giving up control of the interface.”

Marcus didn’t name Apple outright, but it’s pretty clear to whom he was referring.

The idea, then, that a big cable company might be investigating what sort of impact an Apple HDTV — or Apple set-top box — might have on its network is perfectly reasonable.

Sources tell AllThingsD that Apple has indeed had talks with a few large cable operators about some new TV product. It makes sense that one of them might be doing its due diligence on capacity issues and whatnot.

But the idea that a “potentially … imminent” launch is in the works seems harder to take seriously.

For starters, Apple has already steered analysts away from the notion that it will have something to say about a TV solution soon. More important: If Apple were close to launching a new service, it would almost certainly be in touch with TV programmers about new arrangements, and we haven’t heard anything along those lines.

In other words, there are still a lot of missing pieces here, and while a major cable provider running what-if scenarios on a rumored Apple product is certainly interesting, it’s not necessarily a trumpet fanfare announcing its imminent arrival.


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