New Apple TV: Yea – Comcast Deal: Nay

comcast-0314Get ready for a new Apple TV device, perhaps this one with gesture hand controls from Apple’s fresh acquisition of Prime Sense (the company that brought you the Microsoft Kinect). You can be sure that a new device is in the offing as the media is busy screaming (yet again) headlines that Apple and Comcast are in talks for a new distribution deal, paving the way for another media frenzy over the long overdue refreshed Apple TV device.

Truth be told, Apple is never not in talks with media companies looking to gain more video content to add to its billion dollar Apple TV cash cow, one rental at a time. In fact, CEO Tim Cook said back in February that the Apple TV combined hardware and content sales added just that — $1B to Apple’s coffers in 2013 alone, helping make Apple the world’s richest company. As of May 2013, the company said it has sold 13M Apple TV boxes to that date, with speculation that half came in H1’13 at $99 each — so Cook may even be understating things just a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, the Apple TV is a great deal for cord cutters, and cord “nevers,” that is, anyone looking to skip costly cableTV subscriptions that seem to (OK they do) behave like an unregulated monopoly. The little Apple device that sits in the palm of your hand, connects to your TV and Wi-Fi in seconds (literally), and includes content from more than two dozen third-party services (Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Watch ABC, WatchESPN, Watch Disney Channel, PBS, plus my fav… Sky News straight from the BBC in London).

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Apple also made it totally seamless to stream content to the large screen from laptops, tablets and smartphones (Apple brand of course), and, to date, the best remote control for the TV — EVER (especially for typing in searches) is that virtual keyboard on your iPad or iPhone. You never ask where’s the remote, because you always have it with you in your pocket — sweet!

Trouble is the cable guys (Comcast mostly) control over-the-top delivery of Internet as well, and this too is unregulated, in spite of the FCC’s recent best efforts to rein them in. To make matters worse (yes, worse!), Comcast is proposing a $45B deal to buy Time Warner Cable and solidify its already stronghold on U.S. Internet delivery.  Anybody — even cash-rich Apple — would make for a better suitor than Comcast.

So get ready for a new Apple TV refresh announcement coming soon, and if the Comcast – Time Warner Cable merger goes through, get ready for a price hike to your Internet delivery, along with some nasty bandwidth throttling that could limit your OTT viewing experience. Hey, this is what unregulated monopolies do, and, consequently, this may be the beginning of the end of the golden age of the Internet — or not. We can always hope somebody in the government is watching out for us and will squash this “pork barrel” deal (or we can simply move to Verizon FiOS neighborhood.)