The Apple TV is very much Apple’s “set-top box” product, especially in terms of function and industrial design. Still, there are plenty of rumors that suggest Apple has talked to Time Warner Cable and Comcast, at different times, for some sort of newer version of the device that acts also as a streaming cable box. Now, rumors of those talks seem almost confirmed in a recent public interest document sent to the FCC. The document essentially tries to explain why the deal is good for the public, but it also reveals a bit of Apple’s future in the TV market.
“Apple tablets are viewing platforms for cable services even while Apple offers an online video service, Apple TV, and explores development of an Apple set top box,” the document says. It goes on to argue that Comcast and Time Warner Cable need to merge in order to compete in the crowded space, of which apparently Apple may be considered a competitor. Still — most rumors suggest that Comcast/TWC is working with Apple, not against it, to provide some sort of support for the cable box, perhaps for exclusive content or for a custom user interface catered to the cable network’s customers.
Apple’s set top box is still expected sometime this year, but as 9to5Mac notes, perhaps Apple is waiting for this merger to finalize before it makes any official announcement. If anyone has an idea about Apple’s future in the set-top box space, it seems like Comast and Time Warner would be in the know — and now it just became public.