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Former CableLabs executive Jean-Francois Mulé recently joined Apple as engineering director, a move that sparked some debate on whether or not this actually means that Apple is planning to take TV plans to the next level.


Mulé is glad to be part of "something big"

In his LinkedIn profile, Mulé mentioned that his new job at Apple has him feeling "challenged, inspired and part of something big," which has led tech journalists to speculate that "something big" could very well mean the long anticipated Apple television set.

However, since Mulé's expertise is in software engineering, it is more likely that he'll be in charge of improving some of Apple's already existing devices (Apple's set-top box, for instance). Some of the rumors that have emerged over time suggest that the set-top box is actually Apple's way of testing the waters for the real surprise, namely a TV with an innovative interface which may include motion sensing controls.

A versatile and experienced cable TV veteran, Mulé's prior job had him working for two years as senior vice president of technology development at CableLabs, where he was tasked with founding the organization's San Francisco branch. During his career at CableLabs, he has held various other important positions, such as VP of IP technologies and services, director of the PacketCable Architecture, and chief architect. He has been involved with numerous important projects, including a development program for wireless services relevant to the cable industry (inter-operator Wi-Fi roaming, Wi-Fi gateways, device management, etc).

Apple's history fuels further speculation

At the foundation of the TV set speculations lies Apple's tradition to launch a device immediately after launching a service for it. For example, the iPod came out soon after the launch of iTunes, and the iPad hit the store shelves with the release of iBookstore. Prior to offering iBookstore, Apple had been in talks, and later partnered with, numerous book publishers.

For the past few months, Apple has been looking at potential partnership opportunities with some of the biggest programmers and distributors in the industry, including Time Warner Cable and the Walt Disney Company. Earlier this year, Apple's chief executive Timothy D. Cook, talked about the company's "grand vision" for television, but did not clarify whether this means an actual TV set, or more features for the Apple set-top box.

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries, has recently mentioned in an interview that he is skeptical about the idea of an Apple television set: "They (Apple) are talking, of course, to cable operators; we understand and we have a good dialogue with them on a number of levels. I don't think they're going to build a TV. They want to be in the interface business. They want essentially to get in between cable operators and customers.”

It is hard to tell at this time whether these rumors are likely to become a reality some day, or whether they're nothing more than wishful thinking. An Apple spokesperson, Kristin Huguet, was asked to talk about the new hire and the speculations that immediately ensued, but she refused to make any commentaries.

Sources:
www.multichannel.com
bits.blogs.nytimes.com
www.theverge.com
 

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would people ditch their 50 inch LCDs to buy an Apple TV that cost twice as much to watch the same Low Def streaming content? :scratch:
 

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To me, if Apple is to get a homeroom with their so called "iTV", they really need to make it innovative and worthwhile. Beyond so called smart apps or fancy hand gestures or voice commands to change channels, etc. Samsung has been very innovative in those regards.. Apple has to catch up to be competitive.
 

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would people ditch their 50 inch LCDs to buy an Apple TV that cost twice as much to watch the same Low Def streaming content? :scratch:
I would say 'Yes' also. I know a of of friends into Apple products that will pay a lot more, regardless if it's better or worse, just because it's 'Apple'. I do like Apple products, but I'm not a fanboy (we have a couple iPods and one Apple TV - compared to multiple other Mp3 players, Android phones and several Roku streamers). My 'Apple' friends have been trying to convince us to switch to iPhones, which I just can't see as I'm using over 200 Aps that would cost a LOT if in the Apple domain - and a lot of the Android phones are just powerful, have larger screens, and work well within the system we use (we love Google and Amazon). Our preference.
 
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