By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
August 29, 2015

What good is a new Apple TV box without new TV programs to stream through it?

That’s a question Apple watchers have been asking since contract talks with content providers broke down (again) and the trade press began reporting that Apple was prepared to launch a new set-top box in September without its rumored “skinny bundle” of must-have programming.

On Friday, TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino offered an answer. And not just any answer. One well-connected Apple pundit called it “the most-informed, best-written piece on Apple TV that you will find before September 9.”

Panzarino’s theory, assembled from earlier rumors and a bit of his own reporting, is that what Apple will unveil in a week and a half is not just a new set-top box, but a new computing platform—one so compelling in its own right that it will strengthen Apple’s negotiating position with content providers and finally break the logjam.

His conclusion:

“Some very smart people I’ve been talking to suggest that, by building a platform, Apple is generating leverage that it can use to great effect in these negotiations. A mid-market breakout box offering is one thing, but a huge, rumbling platform with an upward trajectory of living-room dominating apps and third-party content is another beast. If, obviously if, Apple is successful with the Apple TV, it could be in a position to dominate content in a way that no other ‘smart’ TV platform has before it.

“If Apple did indeed ‘delay’ the Apple TV from being released at WWDC, then it probably had a reason. And, if my sources are correct, that reason could well be polish, polish, polish. The experience of using it is said to blow away the types of junky smart TV interfaces we’ve had to deal with so far. This is the first real Apple TV product.”

If you’re interested in Apple and the future of television, Panzarino’s Apple Is About To Lay Down Its TV Cards is a must-read.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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