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Tim Cook Needs His Apple TV

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) rumored plans to revolutionize the TV market herald an exciting new era for the gadget giant but pose a big test for CEO Tim Cook.

"It's definitely a test -- it's his first new product category as CEO," Brian White, an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities, told TheStreet. "It doesn't just have to be a good product -- you have to market it, you have to get people interested and manage the content providers."

Apple has not launched completely new hardware since the iPad's debut in early 2010, so Cook also will have to carefully manage the hype cycle that engulfs the company's launches.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, though, thinks that managing content providers will be the toughest task. "From our understanding, what is holding back a real Apple TV from shipping are content partnerships and licensing terms that still need to be ironed out," he explained, in a note released on Tuesday.

While iTunes has a rich library of movies and TV shows, Wu notes that the service does not have live broadcast television. "One obvious way to bypass or offer this is via the traditional way where a user subscribes to cable or satellite," he explained. "But a more revolutionary, not to mention disruptive and differentiated way, is via the Internet or IPTV which would be more in-line with its iTunes and iCloud model."

The analyst, however, believes that cable companies could beat a path to Apple's door rather than risk losing subscribers, similar to the way the music industry had to embrace iTunes.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Apple's TV project is being led by iPod and iTunes creator Jeff Robbin. Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that Robbin's involvement underlines Apple's desire to extend its vast technology reach into consumer living rooms.

Apple declined to comment on its TV plans when contacted by TheStreet.

Comments made by Steve Jobs in his biography, however, have further fuelled chatter that Apple is preparing to enter into the smart TV market.

Jobs, the late Apple CEO and co-founder, told his biographer that he had "finally cracked" the challenge of creating an integrated television set. The TV would be seamlessly synced with other devices and Apple's iCloud service, according to Walter Isaacson, author of the new book, Steve Jobs.
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