Here are your Apple rumors and AAPL news items for today:
Negotiations: Plans for a new set-top media streaming box from Apple (AAPL) appear to have moved away from licensing content directly from studios in favor of cutting deals with cable TV providers, the Wall Street Journal notes. Last year, Apple was rumored to be attempting to secure licensing deals that would deliver content to a new set-top box, potentially bypassing traditional pay-TV services like cable and satellite. Apple was apparently unable to secure deals with content providers, even after offering additional licensing payments for ad-free content streaming. Now, Apple is said to be talking with two big subscription-TV services, including Time Warner Cable (TWC) about licensing TV programming for the set-top box. Apple was previously rumored to have approached Time Warner about a service that would have given its set-top box control over TWC’s video-on-demand service. Sources tell the Journal that Apple could attempt to obtain licenses for content directly from studios at some later point. Recent rumors indicate that Apple is readying the release of a significant hardware upgrade to its existing Apple TV set-top box. Sources gave divergent indications about Apple’s timetable for launching a new set-top box, with one source suggesting a June launch and another suggesting a fall debut. It is unclear what effect Comcast’s (CMCSA) just-announced $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable — should it obtain regulatory approval — might have on a potential TWC streaming deal with Apple.
Sourcing: Apple has released a report that tracks the production of its devices outside the U.S., the New York Times notes. Apple indicated that its supply chain partners do not use components made with so-called “conflict metals,” metals that come from regions embroiled in military conflicts. Warlords in the Democratic Republic of Congo have used the sale of some metal ores to financing their military campaigns. Activists have urged global manufacturers to avoid the use of components containing such metals. Apple also noted that it was working with its supply chain partners to reduce working hours for their employees. Apple has set a maximum workweek of 60 hours for supply chain partner workers. Last year it said its partners attained a 95% compliance rate with that goal.
Bye-Bye: Apple’s non-Retina iPad 2 is apparently headed for the history books, AppleInsider notes. Sources say that the legacy iPad will probably be discontinued soon. The iPad 2 hit stores in March 2011 featuring an A5 processor. Since the release of more advanced models, the non-Retina iPad 2 has been priced around $399. Sales of the legacy iPad 2 have fallen as consumers switch to newer models like last year’s iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted the end of the non-Retina iPad 2 last year. Apple is expected to ship about 300,000 iPad 2 units during the current quarter.
For more about the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.