apple engineers have been working since 2005 to reinvent TV viewing. Designing the gadget may prove easy compared with convincing media and cable companies to loosen their grip on the television industry.
Apple is vying with Google, Microsoft and Amazon to make TVs the digital hub of people's lives in an industry projected to reach US$200 billion (HK$1.56 trillion) worldwide by 2017. Whoever wins must first strike deals with media companies or cable providers who have little incentive to cede valuable revenue streams.
The result: Apple won't be releasing a new TV product this year, said a person familiar with the company's plans.
"It's not a nice, simple, easy story that Apple is going to come in and turn the world upside-down and were all going to live happily ever after," said Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C Bernstein & Co.
The main stumbling blocks with cable companies have included a tussle for control over the software that determines the screen interface.
That's also what TiVo has been offering in the United States for more than a decade with its hard drive-equipped set-top box that allows viewers to easily record broadcasts and stream internet fare. TiVo's growth, though, has been stymied by fierce resistance from cable TV providers.
Apple and cable providers have also diverged on whether a new Apple TV set-top box should be sold direct or leased through cable providers.
So far, Apple's television effort has been limited to the US$99 Apple TV, a small box that streams movies, shows and other content from the web. Unlike set-top devices from cable providers, it does not deliver live broadcasts or record shows.
Since the middle of the last decade, Apples engineers have been working on a more advanced product to allow viewers to quickly find shows and movies, blending both live and recorded material.
It would recommend content based on interests and work seamlessly with Apple's family of other devices. An iPhone or iPad would double as a remote control.
In some of its most recent negotiations, Apple has focused on cable companies that would give it access to live broadcasting without needing new content agreements.
Under such a deal, Apple would release a new product for customers to access their set of channels, paid with a cable subscription, instead of leasing a set-top box from pay-TV operators for a monthly fee, a person familiar with the discussions said. Apple may also lease the boxes through cable companies. The box would be internet- connected.