The latest cable threats: Apple, Google

Cable is again under threat from outside sources with computer pedigrees. Microsoft for years has trotted out television offerings that either compete with or work with cable and a slew of over-the-top (OTT) Internet content providers continue to chip away at cable's video entertainment base.

The latest threats are Google, which has partnered with Sony and Intel to build a box that hooks directly to TVs and Apple, which is reportedly involved in creating a TV service that "could revamp the HDTV market in the next two to four years."

In each case, the competition's offerings are flawed but potentially dangerous. Apple, for instance, is supposedly ready to sell a product for under $2,000 that would replace the HDTV, Blu-ray player, DVR cable box and game console and could, according to a Piper Jaffray analyst, "change the rules of the game." Google's TV box is less revolutionary and more like a current DVD or cable box that lets users access the Internet via the television rather than the computer.

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