What could Apple be planning with Rovi?

Apple TV - no apps, games, or web

On Monday Fortune brought word that Apple had entered into a multiyear licensing deal with Rovi, which could cover everything from TV guides to DRM. But what could Apple want with this tech?

Gene Munster, of course, still thinks Apple will build their own TV. I still think that's a leftover rumor from when they were readying the 27" iMac. With a $99 Apple TV on the way, Apple doesn't have to worry about competing with Sony or Samsung in the lower-margin, high cost, premium TV market but can simply piggy back onto any existing panel in the living room.

Likewise, I don't think Apple is going into the PVR business. I used to, and they have patents for it, but it smells like one of those things Apple considers the past, not the future, and Apple is ruthless about jettisoning the past.

As to DRM, Apple already has FairPlay, the iTunes DRM, could what Rovi has be a better solution? A more appealing one for iTunes TV show rental holdouts NBC and CBS?

It seems far more likely that Apple just wanted to secure what it already uses Rovi to provide -- information about the content already on iTunes.

[Fortune via 9to5Mac]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

What could Apple be planning with Rovi?


I've believed for years that Apple would go on to make their own TV. And I still do. It's when the Apple TV will change names to the Apple HDTV. 32in+, integrated AppleTV features we see now and more, 32GB+ SSD, AirPort, AirPlay, iSight Camera, 1920 x 1080 IPS panel, and it'll be running iOS.
The recent AppleTV update fuelled this fire for me. I won't lose faith unless Apple stopped making any advances in the TV add-on market over the next 2yrs. Around 18-24m times is when I had the Apple HDTV pegged for unveiling.

"...Apple is ruthless about jettisoning the past."
Except when it's a giant 30-pin "USB" connector of doom! Seriously though when is that behemoth going away?

I think they are heading to an 'iDVD' or 'iMovie' like template 'tv-channel-builder' so you just choose what you want in (movies, tv shows, netflix, etc) and you get your 'own' 24h 'custom channel', all with 'next in YourTV..' etc. promos.
I think they allways copy and paste 'the real thing' into a particular way, so you don't even have to 'choose what to view'. You did it before, when 'building your channel'...
You just sit, swich Apppe TV on, and get entertained...

@ Shaun - ..."1920 x 1080 IPS panel, and it’ll be running iOS."
I doubt Apple would want to make another cookie-cutter HDTV. I'm thinking 1920x1280, which is precisely 2x the vertical and horizontal pixel count of the current iOS at 960x640. And what would Apple do with that extra 200 pixels? How about a dock? Or a fast task switcher? And, of course, a full 1920x1280 would allow even current iOS 4.x apps to be pixel doubled to completely fill the screen with no cropping. 1920x1080 wouldn't allow that.

Agree with Rene on staying out of the PVR business. If Blu-Ray is a "bag of hurt" then the PVR business is a smoking crater of hurt. Especially if it would cannibalize iTunes store sales and rentals. And as for Apple wanting to "secure what it already uses Rovi to provide" all we need to do is look at what happened with Apple's attempt to buy AdMob. They got sniped by Google at the last minute. Apple doesn't want to be out-bid. Hence the Rovi deal (and the Liquidmetal deal too for that matter.)