Apple is reportedly in discussions with executives at a number of large media companies as the firm pushes ahead with plans to move into the TV space and compete with Google and Microsoft in the IPTV market. A Wall Street Journal report, citing people familiar with the matter, claims that Apple is in talks with execs over new ways of syncing media content so that a user can watch video on a TV set and then switch to another device, such as a smartphone or tablet, seamlessly. Apple is also understood to have outlined its plans for the future of TV technology, describing how TV sets will be able to respond to users’ voices and movements using its voice recognitions software Siri. However, the firm is still not disclosing exactly what software and devices it is working on and is yet to show any new product to media execs. The talks are not thought to include negotiations over actual content licensing, suggesting that any Apple TV set could still be some way
The reports are just the latest relating to Apple’s IPTV plans. The firm launched its first foray into the market, a set-top box dubbed Apple TV, four years ago, offering online video content from the likes of YouTube, Netflix and iTunes. But the service has so far failed to gain traction, with Apple previously describing the device as a “hobby”. Nevertheless, the firm continues working on Apple TV, with former CEO Steve Jobs saying before he died that he envisioned a set that would be controlled by Apple devices and be easier to use and more personalised. This led analysts, including Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, to predict that the firm will launch a full TV set, rather than just an updated set-top box, as it looks to bring its success in the smartphone and tablet markets to the living room.
Previous rumours suggested that Apple will integrate Siri with its TVs, meaning users could navigate search menus and find content using voice commands, dispensing with the need for traditional remote controls. The latest speculation claims that Apple is planning to take this one step forward and bring in movement controls as well, although this would likely not be available in the first-generation TV sets. If true, the move would pitch Apple into competition with firms such as Microsoft, which says it is integrating similar technology into its Xbox 360 gaming console, as well as Google, whose TV software enables users to control what they are watching via Android and iPhone
Apple could, however, hold an edge over its competitors if it can develop a connected TV that syncs with other Apple devices and its iCloud storage service. The WSJ claims that an Apple TV set will support integration of DVR storage with iCloud, as well as AirPlay, Apple’s wireless streaming technology that will enable users to transfer media between devices and control a TV using and iPhone or iPad. However, Apple is yet to comment on when its first TV sets could be released, although rumours suggest they are on track for a late 2012 or early 2013 release