New Apple TV will be a major upgrade, but perhaps not as ambitious as Apple hoped

Multiple reports are confirming Apple’s plans to launch a revamped Apple TV product later this year. While we can expect changes to the set-top hardware, the major focus will be on providing a new content experience aided by the likes of Time Warner, Comcast, and DirecTV. However, Apple’s ambitious approach does not seem to be playing well with television service providers.

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Ideally, Apple is hoping for a streamlined system that sees the company as a primary content provider. In reality, a new Apple TV will likely have to settle in some ways for a more typical on-demand experience serviced by Time Warner and others. Rather than ink deals directly with content producers, Apple will utilize cable providers as a middleman.

This, naturally, has led to some discrepancies in how users will gain access to content. Apple’s Eddy Cue wants to allow users to use their Apple IDs to log into subscription services across the board. Cable providers would rather customers use credentials linked to their own platforms.

The type and amount of content available to users has also been a sticking point. Apple initially was asking for full seasons of shows to be available on demand, but has since had to settle for a more industry standard five most recent episodes.

The reported moves continue a trend that has seen Apple attempt to improve Apple TV not  with flashy hardware upgrades but rather with providing access to a wider range of content. The new model would see upgraded processing and, based on their dealings with cable and satellite providers, the potential for a built-in TV tuner, among other things (router functionality has also been rumored).

Apple will seek not to compete with service providers. Instead, the company will work with them, which could result in some providers offering Apple TV hardware as part of their subscription. The Wall Street Journal suggests Apple might not even sell the box direct to consumers (though we see this as unlikely).

Bloomberg reports that Apple could announce the new hardware and services as early as April, but the actual device might not be available until the year’s end. The WSJ, however, states a launch could come as early as June.

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