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It may even arrive sooner than you think. There is talk that Apple wants to allow subscribers to customize their own channel lineups, which would be a key differentiator for viewers who are disgruntled about having to pay for bundled channel packages that include shows they'll never watch (I'm looking at you, Discovery Communications' TLC, and your Toddlers & Tiaras or 19 Kids and Counting).
This aspect is probably more of a holdup than hardware or technological constraints, since a customized channel offering throws a curve ball at content providers who are wary of giving Apple to much control. It presents licensing complications from the perspective of content partners. CBS (NYSE: CBS ) CEO Les Moonves even spurned Apple's ad revenue split proposal in favor of its licensing strategy.
In other news, Digitimes has some juicy rumors on what may lurk inside. Instead of using Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) chips like Macs do, Apple is expected to use its own custom-designed ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) -based chips. It would presumably use the next generation of the A5 processor now found in iPhones and iPads.
A few chipmakers are potentially lined up to win the contract to fabricate the A6 and A7 generations. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM ) , Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (NYSE: ASX ) , and Siliconware Precision Industries (Nasdaq: SPIL ) are said to be in the running. There's also a chance that Cupertino will stick with frenemy Samsung.
Foxconn, which builds most iPhones and iPads, is also set to build the Apple TV, according to the report.
The choice to stick with ARM chips is in line with Intel's admission of defeat in the space. The chip giant recently closed down its Digital Home Group, which had focused on putting Atom chips into smart TVs. The division is being folded into Intel's tablet group to focus on those devices, set-top boxes, and cable modems.
The current Apple TV set-top box uses an A4 chip, and continuing to use ARM chips also opens up another important possibility: running iOS apps. By using the same chip architecture, it would be possible for Apple's new TV to run games and apps currently available with some tweaking. Developers would need to adjust resolutions and likely change control schemes, since I doubt the new Apple TV will be a massive 32-inch or 37-inch capacitive touchscreen. But I expect a Siri-powered iPhone remote anyway, and some game developers already use AirPlay for gaming, making your iPad or iPhone the controller.
The possibility to choose a customized channel lineup and play iOS games on power-efficient custom chips? Yes, please.
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