News that Apple has signed a secret licensing deal with a company that does those scrolling program guides for digital TV has rekindled rumors about a full-blown Apple television, with live TV and DVR functionality, as essentially the next step after Apple TV. In particular, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster - who has literally been saying for years that Apple was going to one day make a TV - told his clients that this is a "critical step towards an all-in-one Apple Television."
Rovi Corporation submitted a filing to the SEC
yesterday as required by law, disclosing the fact that they "entered into a multi-year agreement with Apple Inc." to license some of Rovi's intellectual property. No other details are available from the filing, which states that the "specific terms of the license agreement are confidential." However, it's not hard to deduce what the deal was about when you look at what Rovi's "intellectual property" is. Formerly known as Macrovision, Rovi is the company that bought TV Guide for its information about television programs, then sold off the unprofitable dead-tree publication. Rovi markets its TotalGuide
as a way to get "simple, centralized and intuitive access to multiple content types: broadcast, premium, Internet-based and personal," providing TV schedules and listings with details about programming, along with additional graphics and interactive media.
is a managing director and senior research analyst for the global investment bank Piper Jaffray. Munster has long been an advocate of the position that Apple is planning a move into television, and is seeing increasing evidence for that view. In a letter to his clients - disclosed by Silicon Valley Insider
- Munster explained how the refreshed Apple TV was "a meaningful change in Apple’s efforts in the digital living room," and asserted that the Rovi deal is "further evidence that Apple is developing live TV and DVR features for its Apple TV product, and will likely launch an all-in-one Apple Television in the next 2-4 years." He also said that licensing Rovi technology will allow Apple "to add live TV, DVR, and guidance features to its Apple TV product, which we believe is a critical step towards an all-in-one Apple Television."
Munster says that Apple will sell 1.5 million Apple TVs next year, a dramatic increase from the 400,000 he estimates they've sold in previous years. "As consumers gain comfort with connected TVs and apps on their TVs
," Munster wrote, "we believe Apple will eventually take its all-in-one philosophy to the digital living room like it has with the iMac and the iTunes ecosystem."