New Steve Jobs email a treasure trove of information about Apple TV, Google ‘holy war,’ and behind-the-scenes strategy

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A new email from Steve Jobs that was published during today’s Samsung lawsuit (via The Verge) has revealed a lot about Apple’s plans for its products in 2011 and beyond. As we’ve previously noted, Jobs referred to 2011 as a year of “holy war” against Google, but this document goes above that and describes how exactly Apple planned to wage this war.

A few choice bits are below, followed by the complete email.

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Report: Apple negotiating w/ media companies for pay TV service, working on full-fledged TV set

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A new report from Quartz today offers some details on Apple’s content negotiations for a much rumored revamped Apple TV. Most of the report echoes what we’ve heard several times in the past– Apple is apparently talking with HBO, Disney, MTV and others about a new TV service. According to Quartz, it could include a pay TV service that would see Apple “essentially becoming a cable company itself,” as well as the release of a “full-fledged television set”:

One alternative being considered is that Apple could essentially become a cable company itself. Under that scenario, sources say, Apple would launch what is formally known as a virtual multichannel video programming distributor. Apple is still interested in striking deals with cable companies that would allow people to plug their cable lines into the back of the TV set, bypassing a cable box, sources say. But at least two years of negotiations haven’t progressed very far.

Sources say Apple has concluded that it doesn’t need all, even most, content providers on board before it can release a TV set that people would buy. It just needs enough good programming to distinguish the new product, which will try to simplify the experience of connecting internet video to the TV.

The report doesn’t offer up any details that we didn’t hear around this same time last year (and the year before that), but it appears Apple could be closer to reaching the deals it needs to launch the next-generation of Apple TV. Earlier today we reported that former Hulu SVP Pete Distad has now officially started his new role at Apple as Product Marketing VP and is thought to be leading Apple executives through negotiations with cable and media companies.  Read more

HBO considers U-turn on cable-free access to HBO Go

Reuters reported that HBO might consider a reversal of its previous position of not allowing access to HBO Go without a cable subscription.

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HBO Go launched 3 years ago to allow subscribers to watch shows on tablets, but the service is so far restricted to those who have a cable TV subscription with an HBO partner and pay a top-up HBO fee. Co-President Eric Kessler had previously, and rather naively, said in a video interview at VideoNuze that those abandoning cable TV for purely online viewing was “minimal” and a temporary response to the economy, and he said there was no reason to offer a standalone mobile service.

This position now appears to be softening, with CEO Richard Plepler recognizing that a growing number of consumers want to choose both content and viewing platform at will.

“Right now we have the right model,” Plepler told Reuters on Wednesday evening at the Season 3 premiere of HBO’s hit TV show “Game of Thrones.” “Maybe HBO GO, with our broadband partners, could evolve.”

Companies like HBO are faced with a difficult tightrope act. While they earn billions of dollars from their existing sales model, any new offering that risks cannibalizing revenue is a frightening prospect for the company. Equally, however, it’s clear that ‘cable-cutting’ —giving up cable TV subscriptions in favor of online viewing— will only increase. Failing to respond to this is not an option.

One number will be looming very large in front of HBO: 25 million. That’s the number of illegal downloads of its hit show “Game of Thrones”. While some substantial proportion of those people would download pirated content for free no matter what options were available, there is a growing phenomenon of illegal downloads by those who would be willing to pay for content simply because existing deals don’t allow them the freedom to simply pay for the content they want on the device they want.

Fox movies finally available for re-download in iTunes in the Cloud

Multiple tipsters wrote in this evening saying 20th Century Fox movies are appearing in their purchased movie iTunes accounts ready for re-downloading over iCloud. Sure enough, Fox’s Horton Hears a Who! is on my kid’s iTunes account ready for downloading on iCloud (above, left). There is also no longer a disclaimer saying, “This movie is not available for iCloud downloading,” in iTunes (above, right) which existed before.

When Apple launched Movies in Cloud in March, both Fox and Universal held out. Universal went live on iCloud in April, and it appears Fox is going live today. The deal has been expected for awhile, as HBO allowed iCloud users access to both studios’ catalogs in March. The reasons for the delay aren’t specified but they often involve complicated contract negotiations with multiple rights holders.

Today has been a big day on the iTunes Store with Poland and Hungary both getting iTunes Match, while 37 different countries got iTunes in the Cloud for movies.

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DirecTV iPad app update adds video streaming on the go

In October, the “DirecTV” app added the ability to stream video over home networks. Today, an update to the app adds the ability to stream shows and movies over 3G and Wi-Fi anywhere. The new feature is limited to video content, meaning live TV streaming still requires a Wi-Fi connection on your home network. Engadget points us to an early review of the new feature that is apparently called “DirecTV Everywhere” from The Solid Signal Blog (below).

According to the video, it looks like available content for the feature is limited to DirecTV’s Audience Network, HBO, Cinemax, Encore, Sony Movie Channel, and Starz. The update also adds a “social module” that lets you check which friend’s on Twitter and Facebook are watching, as well as Miso check-ins and the ability to resume watching programs on the iPad where you left off. You need to be a DirecTV subscriber to get access to the content, and you will find a long list of requirements for various features on the iTunes page with version 1.5.0

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HBO will soon allow iCloud users access to Universal and Fox movies

With the introduction of the new Apple TV, alongside the new iPad’s introduction last week, we learned that iCloud users would now be able access purchased movies (which also extends to digital copies uploaded from DVDs). The feature was previously limited to music and TV shows. At the time, we unfortunately learned content from Comcast’s Universal and Fox would be blocked from iCloud due to exclusive rights in place through pre-existing deals with HBO. An HBO spokesperson has now confirmed to The Wall Street Journal the company will relax the terms of its deals with the two content providers in order to allow iCloud users to access to their previously purchased content: Read more