The Apple TV may already be in TV makers' hands

There's no word on whether American cable providers or telecoms are also working with Apple

Reports about Apple's expected television set continue unabated with a new claim that Apple is talking to Canadian telecoms Rogers Communications Inc. and Bell Canada Enterprises about a possible TV set deal. The talks appear so serious that Bell and Rogers reportedly have Apple TV set prototypes in their respective development labs, according to The Globe and Mail, Canada's largest national newspaper.

Bell and Rogers both offer wireless, Internet, home phone, and television services in Canada. The two companies own a number of Canadian television brands such as Bell's CTV, a national television network, and Rogers' Sportsnet, a national all-sports channel. These services may be critical for Apple to get its TV set plans off the ground. "They’re looking for a partner...with wireless and broadband capabilities,” an anonymous source told The Globe and Mail.

The report does not mention anything about Apple's content plans for its new TV set such as whether the device would exclusively offer online streaming content or include connections for standard cable or satellite television as well. It may be that Apple is looking to partner with cable providers to ensure its television works seamlessly with broadcast television services from major providers. Or there could be a much deeper partnership in which Apple's hardware is sold through your cable or Internet service provider.

There's no word on whether American cable providers or telecoms are also working with Apple.

USA Today reported in January that Apple was having trouble securing content deals for an Apple TV set with American content providers. In November, CBS chief executive Les Moonves appeared to let slip during an earnings call that his company decided against "joining Apple TV." Moonves' comments were interpreted to be a passing reference to Apple's rumored subscription-based streaming plans.

Speculation and reports about Apple's plans to enter the television market have exploded since the publication of Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs in October. "I finally cracked it," Jobs said in the book, referring to solving the problem of a user-friendly TV interface. Shortly after the book's release, the New York Times claimed that an Apple television set with Siri-style voice commands was in the works and could ship as early as 2013.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)

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