Apple TV said to be in IPTV set-top talks

Some stories, unlike old soldiers, never die or fade away; they keep being resurrected and re-spun as the need arises. That, at least, could be a cynical view of the most recent report in the Wall Street Journal that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is--again, still, never stopped trying--in talks with U.S cable operators about building and using an Apple device as a set-top box for TV and other IP content.

The idea's not that far-fetched. Every MVPD has some form of connection with an Apple device--an iPad, iPod or iPhone--as part of a whole-home TV entertainment package. But then again, most also have the same kinds of deals with Google and Android, so there's at least the appearance of a level playing field. Allowing Apple to take it a step further--and that's what the story implies--might also give the men in the Macs a bigger toehold in the pay-TV space than would be comfortable for MVPDs.

That story did note that Apple apparently hasn't reached an operator deal yet. Then again, it implies, it hasn't not reached an operator deal and it can keep trying.

Tapscape, which picked up on the Journal story, noted that the new Apple focus is away from its own television and more in line with a piece that could be integrated into a TV. That's the same play some thought Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) might take after it acquired Motorola, but any movement on that front appears to be stalled at the moment. As for Apple, Tapscape remains "highly skeptical" of any cooperation between MVPDs and Apple.

Perhaps Apple's already laid the groundwork. Gizmodo seems to think so in a story that details a patent Apple just received, six years after it was originally filed, that makes it "poised to become the biggest TV company in the world."

Gizmodo, in its piece, lays out all the details of the patent which was granted for "generating a menu in a video environment for video that can be display (sc) in one or more contexts." Translated, the publication says, "Apple wants you to watch TV channels on its little black box.

"The patent illustrations clearly show a means of navigating between (and recording) U.S. networks like CBS and NBC, as well as universal icons for tasks like deleting and searching," the article says. "This is from six years ago, and looks about as rough as most patent mockups do, but it's a delicious hint at what's to come from our favorite TV set that doesn't exist yet."

For more:
- the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription) has this story
-Tapscape has this story
- and Gizmodo has this observation and patent information

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