Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.
In what's surely the third go-round on this rumor, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is reportedly gearing up to produce a tablet with a smaller screen than the iconic iPad, reports The Wall Street Journal, noting that Apple has told its manufacturing partners in Asia/Pacific to prepare for mass production on such a device. The paper didn't say when Apple might actually launch a mini tablet, but it's another possible indication that Apple may pursue a lower-cost device that would match up size-wise with products such as the Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle Fire and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s new Nexus 7. The paper, citing two unnamed sources, says the new screen will likely be smaller than eight inches, compared to the 9.7-inch screens that graced the first two generations of the iPad. The lack of a cheaper, smaller tablet hasn't hurt Apple so far. The iPad, which has become a key second screen for cable operators and other traditional pay-TV service providers, ended 2012 with 62 percent of the global tablet market, according to IHS iSuppli . (See Google's First Tablet Lights Fire Under Kindle.)
Still, such a product would counter Apple's previous thinking about the market for smaller tablets. AllThingsD points out that the late Steve Jobs was not a fan of a mini tablet, noting in a fall 2010 earnings call that Apple would sidestep a seven-inch screen, "because we don't want to hit [a lower] price point." If the WSJ is correct on Apple's new strategy, than it's apparent that Jobs's view from about two years ago is no longer shared by the company's new chief, Tim Cook. But the report also notes that Jobs was notorious for panning new products and markets until Apple jumped in.
About 87 percent of U.S. homes still subscribe to some form of a multi-channel video service, about the same level it's been at for the past two years, and up from 80 percent in 2004, Leichtman Research Group Inc. (LRG) revealed in its latest study. Although over-the-top (OTT) video services are being blamed for the emergence of so-called "cord-cutters," the "defining characteristic" of those who don't subscribe to a pay-TV package remains the level of household income, according to LRG President Bruce Leichtman. On that note, he says 6 percent of homes with annual incomes over $75,000 don't subscribe to a multi-channel service. That jumps to 12 percent in the $30,000 to $75,000 income range, and 27 percent in homes with yearly incomes of less than $30,000.
Schurz Communications Inc. has closed a deal to acquire the interests of Orbitel Communications LLC, a company that serves about 10,000 cable subs in Maricopa, Ariz. Schurz operates three other cable systems in: Sun Lakes, Ariz.; Coral Springs, Fla.; and Hagerstown, Md.