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Apple VP Eddy Cue: Apple TV not likely in the near future

If you were hoping for a 60-inch Apple-branded HDTV for Christmas, get prepared to buy yourself another toy instead. Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves met Wednesday with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and Senior VP for Internet services and software, and today he published a company update saying that "An Apple television appears extremely unlikely in the near-term."

Hargreaves noted that it doesn't appear to be technology that's holding up the entry of Apple into the TV or cable set-top box -- instead, it's the cable TV companies and content providers that are holding up the works. From Hargreaves' report:

The key problems in the television market are the poor quality of the user interface and the forced bundling of pay TV content, in our view. While Apple could almost certainly create a better user interface, Mr. Cue's commentary suggested that this would be an incomplete solution from Apple's perspective unless it could deliver content in a way that is different from the current multichannel pay TV model.

Unfortunately for Apple and for consumers, acquiring rights for traditional broadcast and cable network content outside of the current bundled model is virtually impossible because the content is owned by a relatively small group of companies that have little interest in alternative models for their most valuable content. The differences in regional broadcast content and the lack of scale internationally also create significant hurdles that do not seem possible to cross at this point.

According to Apple 2.0's Philip Elmer-DeWitt, that message is in line with published reports about the slow pace of Apple's negotiations with cable TV companies. Elmer-DeWitt's take? "Apple's much-rumored breakthrough in television -- whatever form it takes -- is likely to come later rather than sooner."