Apple is rumored to be in early talks to acquire video-streaming service Hulu. If true, that could help with Apple's broader media plans.
Apple is apparently considering a bid for online-streaming
service Hulu, according to Bloomberg.
news service drew that information from two anonymous sources, paraphrasing
them as saying the bid was in early talks and "may lead to an offer." Apple
tends to be acquisition-shy, but with more than $76 billion cash on hand, it
could easily make a play for Hulu, whose price tag Bloomberg and analysis firm
SNL Kagan estimated at somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 billion.
Apple already exerts a heavy gravitational pull on the media
world, thanks to its iTunes storefront, but Hulu's streaming television
episodes could help the company's long-anticipated move into the cloud-based
media services. Of course, that's assuming that Apple makes a definitive play
for Hulu, which offers both free, ad-supported video and a monthly premium
In theory, Apple could integrate Hulu into its Apple TV
franchise, giving it a boost in the competition against Google TV, which
combines a Web browser and search capabilities into existing television
In June, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster suggested that
Apple is working on a television set for release sometime next year.
"We continue to believe that Apple is developing a
television set that will succeed its current Apple TV set-top-box, likely in
late [calendar year] 2012," he wrote in a June 23 research note. "As recently
as May 11 the US Patent and Trademark Office has published Apple patents
relating to television-specific technology," including one for "advanced TV
Moreover, he saw Apple television as a radical game-changer
for many of the company's core products, including iCloud and the App Store.
"Apple may add movies and TV shows purchased or rented in iTunes to the iCloud
service, which could be viewed on a TV," he wrote. "Apple's strong iOS
developer community would likely jump at the chance to build apps for an Apple
Television, and Apple's iOS users would likely jump at the chance to buy one."
Those weren't the first rumors of Apple's
supposed television plans. In April, Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter
Misek wrote that Apple could launch a subscription-based video service,
possibly in the form of a television set or a new set-top box-not to be
confused with the company's current Apple TV, a palm-size device that lets
users stream Netflix and other content to their televisions.
If Apple does have plans for a subscription-based video
service, purchasing Hulu could go a long way toward securing the
infrastructure and rights it needs to make that happen. But as with most things
Apple, trust that any details of a possible acquisition will be kept very
hush-hush until a formal announcement.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.