AppleTV Stories September 4, 2013

Apple imports more Apple TVs – but is it a refresh?

A blog post by supplier-sourcing company Panjiva (via GigaOM) is being cited as evidence that Apple plans to launch a refreshed Apple TV alongside the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C at its media event on September 10th.

  • On August 25th, Apple received a shipment described as “Set Top Box with Communication Function” from BYD Precision Manufacture in Shenzhen, China.
  • On August 18th, Apple received another shipment, again from BYD, described as “Set Top Boxes.”
  • And on August 11th, Apple received its first shipment from BYD of “Set Top Box with Communication Function.

While it’s possible that the timing aligns with plans to have a new model in stock this month, and a refresh is somewhat overdue, it’s rather thin evidence on which to base this assumption: it’s equally possible that this is merely a routine shipment of existing stock. Either way, we won’t have long to wait to find out.

AppleTV Stories August 28, 2013

Workaround restores PlexConnect after Apple TV update broke it

While Apple pushed out a lot of nice goodies in yesterday’s Apple TV update, not everyone was happy. Those who use the Trailers hack PlexConnect to run the Plex media server on their Apple  TVs found that it no longer worked.

Fortunately, a fix didn’t take long. Developer Paul Kehrer has posted an illustrated tutorial to his cleverly-named langui.sh site which restores the functionality of the hack. It’s a little fiddly, but from the comments it seems to be a reliable fix.

The Plex iOS app was updated back in July.

AppleTV Stories August 27, 2013

Apple broke PlexConnect Apple TV hack with this morning’s update

UPDATE: Workaround now available to restore access

Thanks to an easy DNS hack called PlexConnect, non-jailbroken Apple TV users have been able to unofficially run the popular media server Plex on the second and third gen Apple TV since we first told you about it back in June. The hack, which required users to run an app on their Mac or PC that masquerades as the Trailers app, appears to be blocked in the latest Apple TV update pushed out this morning.

Earlier today Apple rolled out an update to the Apple TV that introduced new apps for Vevo, The Weather Channel, Smithsonian, Disney Channel, and Disney XD. The update didn’t require users to initiate a firmware update, so many users are reporting waking up to the PlexConnect app no longer working through the Trailers hack. A growing number of users on the Plex forums confirmed that PlexConnect is unable to connect following this morning’s update.

It’s unclear if Apple is intentionally blocking the popular Plex hack or whether its possibly a result of tweaks to the Trailers app delivered with the update. Plex isn’t the only app that takes advantage of the hack. We reported earlier this year that a Russian subscription TV service was using a similar method.

AppleTV Stories August 22, 2013

Apple-hdtv2

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.  expand full story

Hulu SVP Pete Distad starts work at Apple as Product Marketing VP

Pete Distad, who was previously SVP of Marketing and Distribution at Hulu, has officially started his new role as VP of Product Marketing at Apple this month, according to a change to Distad’s LinkedIn page over the last week. Hulu’s executive bios page appears to be down as well, possibly while it’s updated to remove Distad’s bio.

Bloomberg reported in July that it heard Apple was recruiting Distad to lead negotiations as Apple was reportedly close to reaching a deal with Time Warner. At Hulu, Distad was responsible for content distribution and customer acquisition/retention on the company’s management team. That includes “subscriber acquisition and retention, paid, on-channel, and brand marketing, distribution and promotional partnerships, and content marketing.”

In its July report, Bloomberg said that Apple and Time Warner planned to “announce an agreement within a few months” that would bring Time Warner TV shows to the Apple TV. The report claimed Distad was being hired to help with negotiations with cable and media companies.

In June Apple added Time Warner’s HBO GO, as well as WatchESPN, Sky News and more to its existing Apple TV service, but reports over the last year surrounding a much-anticipated revamped Apple TV claimed Apple was hitting various roadblocks with cable companies.

A new report today from Quartz offered some updates on Apple’s continued negotiations with content providers for a pay TV service.

Earlier this week we reported that Apple picked up Levi’s Senior VP Enrique Atienza for its U.S. retail team.

 

AppleTV Stories August 15, 2013

Apple bought Matcha because it “found the answer” with its recommendation algorithm

Following reports earlier this week that Apple had acquired video aggregation and discovery service Matcha, TechCrunch claims today that its sources have provided a bit more info on the motivation behind the acquisition. While noting that the purchase price was actually closer to $10-$15 million opposed to the $1 to $1.5 million reported by others, the report says that Apple is after the company’s proprietary recommendation algorithm rather than just its talent:

Nor was it an acqui-hire; this was about the product Matcha built and about the specific recipe for video recommendations it put together via its proprietary algorithm, according to one source close to the matter.Matcha was acquired after testing numerous approaches to generating recommendations, right at the point where it had refined its algorithm such that it saw an explosion in user growth, according to our source. The app did definitely do well on the App Store charts, and was ranked among the top 15 apps in the Entertainment category before it was shut down.’

TechCrunch also adds that Apple found Matcha’s user acquisition and user engagement strategy to be the “best of any other apps competing in that space” and that it had “found the answer” with its recommendation algorithms:

It was Matcha’s user acquisition and user engagement strategy that Apple was interested in, according to one of our sources, since the acquisition happened just after Matcha had completed a round of vigorous A/B testing and had “found the answer” to rapid user growth and time spent in app. Matcha’s pairing algorithms that drove the right content to the right users simply worked best of any other apps competing in that space, the source affirms.

The report also confirms that Apple actually acquired Matcha prior to the company shutting down the service back in May.

The video programming recommendation app, which lets users browse across services like Netflix, iTunes, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others, didn’t pick up much steam on the App Store after launching in January 2012. While some have speculated that Apple could use the service to help power recommendations for a revamped Apple TV service, today’s report compares the purchase to Apple’s previous acquisition of app recommendation and search service Chomp.

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