An Apple television mockup by

Sony CEO Howard Stringer said in a recent interview he had “no doubt” that Apple was working on a television set, hinting his company had a few tricks up its sleeve as well.

I spent the last five years building a platform so I can compete against Steve Jobs. It’s finished, and it’s launching now.

Well, those plans have come into full. The Wall Street Journal ran a story detailing Sony’s push into the cable TV space. Think a streaming service aiming to obsolete cable and satellite TV providers by pushing more affordable entertainment content to devices via the ubiquitous IP protocol. Yes, Sony is already streaming Hollywood entertainment via the PlayStation network, but this is a different animal.

You see, even though Sony has its own movie and television studio, they lack a major TV channel in the United States, meaning they’re forced to shop for TV channels elsewhere. The company is allegedly negotiating the rights to offer third-party television programming via the web in the United States, “people familiar with the situation” told the paper:

But one person familiar with the talks said that Sony doesn’t want to recreate the same bundles cable TV offers and might start with smaller niche channels that are having trouble getting fees from cable operators.

Content would stream to the 18.1 million PlayStation 3 consoles installed in the U.S. homes, as well as networked HDTVs and Blu-ray players. Sony is apparently in talks with Comcast’s NBCUnviersal, Discover Communications and News Corp, but the deal is anything but given because Sony would love to undercut these guys on price. Clearly the company has nothing to lose considering its absence from the cable TV business. Another major obstacle: Bandwidth caps being imposed by Internet providers in the United States.

Sony has had little luck so far with their Google TV sets and Stringer is adamant that “every TV set we all make loses money”. Apple, of course, is rumored to be exploring a full-blown television set with Siri and Apple TV functionality built-in in an attempt to expand into the HDTV market understood to be worth an estimated $100 billion in 2012, much to the analysts’ delight. That project is allegedly being headed by iTunes creator Jeff Robbin.

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