Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple and the stupid cable box

August 16, 2012: 12:07 PM ET

A filmmaker makes a strong case that the cable guys will never strike a deal with Cupertino

Apple TV

FORTUNE -- Of the 53 responses posted before noon Wednesday to the Wall Street Journal's latest piece about Apple's negotiations with the cable TV operators -- including TechCrunch's "Everyone has known this for months" -- the most nuanced may have been Victor Agreda, Jr.'s Apple's toughest nut yet at TUAW.

"The cable industry is still the predominant distributor of many shows," he writes, "and don't think for a second that any cable exec is willing to give up the control they now enjoy to Apple. Not now, possibly not ever."

There is no set-top cable box that doesn't suck, says Agreda, a filmmaker and 3D animator. The cable companies like it that way, and the last thing they want is for Apple to swoop in and replace a broken user interface with one that works for users.

The cable executives saw what Apple did to the music industry in more innocent times -- when the iPod was expensive and Apple was a flea on Microsoft's (MSFT) back. That won't happen to the cable monopolies, not on their watch.

Apple could make a business case to the content creators that an Apple TV set top box would make them -- not just Apple -- money, Agreda writes. But it has a steep wall to climb:

"If Apple continues to demand something on the order of a 30% cut, that may never happen," Agreda concludes. "In that case, I would love for Apple to show us all what could have been... and see if the companies who said 'no' respond."

It's a smart piece. You can read it here.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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