More Apple ‘iTV’ Rumors: Cable Companies Getting on Board?

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As the idea of an Apple television becomes more certainty than fantasy, one major question has come up: Where is Apple going to get its content? A new rumor suggests that it’ll come from the same companies that supply your cable or satellite TV now.

Apple is in talks with two television providers in Canada, Rogers and Bell, to be launch partners for the so-called iTV, anonymous sources told the Globe and Mail. If true, that means Apple will rely on traditional pay-TV providers, instead of — or in addition to — striking its own deals with networks.

(MORE: Don’t Expect an Apple Television Anytime Soon)

Partnerships between Apple and pay-TV providers would be both good and bad for consumers. Working with a cable company means getting lots of content, which Apple can then offer through a simple interface, potentially with iPhones, iPads and Siri acting as remote controls.

On the downside, cable companies aren’t likely to give up their old business model of making subscribers pay for unwanted bundles of channels. For years, rumors have swirled about Apple trying to build an à la carte alternative, offered through iTunes, but networks have been reluctant to play along. The best shot at disrupting traditional TV will come from apps and Web-based content, which Apple is also likely to integrate.

As for the iTV itself, the latest rumors say Apple is looking into components now and possibly trying to launch a product by the end of the year. Gene Munster, an analyst for Piper Jaffray, has said to expect a range of sizes at twice the market price of low-end HDTVs, but that appears to be speculation, not sourced information.

Also this week, Best Buy was caught surveying customers to see whether they’d buy a 42-in. Apple HDTV running iOS for $1,499. The product was apparently just a hypothetical, from a third-party research company, but I’ll bet Apple’s not happy about Best Buy fueling even more speculation.

MORE: The Future of Television: Kinect vs. Siri?