Apple has explored a variety of ways of conquering the TV business since it introduced its own set-top box almost exactly 10 years ago.
Steve Jobs famously told biographer Walter Isaacson before he died that he had “finally cracked” how to do it. But after abandoning the idea of building its own TV set, being thwarted in offering its own pay TV service, and declining to pursue acquisitions of Hollywood studios, the company appears to have lowered its aspirations, at least for now. And even aiming for far less than a revolution, Apple is still encountering resistance from the entertainment industry.
The current plan is to create a single virtual guide of all the programming that is available via different apps on the current Apple TV platform, Recode reported, citing unnamed sources. A user could search for a show or movie in the guide and get results back from any and all apps where that particular item could be watched. The guide would also be available on other devices like an iPhone or iPad.
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Apple declined to comment.
While not a major breakthrough, it would at least make Apple TV more useful. Currently, a user looking to watch the Cameron Crowe movie Almost Famous, for example, on their iPad would have to plod through numerous apps, Netflix (NFLX), HBO Go, Showtime, Hulu, and more, searching in each one to see if the movie was available. And since the services change their available offerings frequently, a user can’t even depend on having watched the movie previously via a particular app.
Apple’s voice-controlled Siri digital assistant provides some of that functionality already but only on the Apple TV. Users can ask Siri for a particular program and the assistant can search across a few dozen apps, with more being added all the time.
But to make the guide useful, Apple (AAPL) needs the app owners to share their offerings on a real-time basis. And that’s where some of the pushback is already happening, Recode reported.
For more about recent improvements to Apple TV, watch:
Entertainment companies are worried about upsetting their relationships with big cable TV providers like Comcast (CMCSA) and Charter Communications (CHTR). Make Apple TV too convenient and viewers might be more drawn to the box and less to traditional cable. And of course the entertainment providers have often said they don’t want to empower Apple so they lose their leverage to dictate prices, as happened to the music industry, at least in their view.