Delivery mechanisms for content are becoming more important, not in the sense that carriers and cablecos networks are more valuable (they aren’t), but in the layer above the infrastructure: the platform for distributing content.
Today, Apple has closed, vertically integrated mechanisms for content distribution: iTunes works this way for shows, music and applications. From the iPod to iTunes, the entire system is closed and 100% Apple. The benefit of an integrated system is much more control over user experience. The drawback is the lack of an open market. Ironically, XBox, Zune do this too.
On the other side of the coin are competitors using the open web to distribute content: Amazon, Netflix and Google/Android among a host of others.
But this feature might be an indication that Apple may open up their stack to other devices. And it may very well be a response to industry sentiment against Apple.
As content owners increasingly lament and attempt to repudiate the dual edged sword of Apple’s distribution hegemony over digital content by building Hulu (alternative video distribution or creating Choruss (innovative music licensing organizations), Apple will have to change their tack to fight off the flanking tactics, perhaps co-opting the web as a distribution strategy, like their competitors.
My bet is that this is some portion of Apple’s plan. In particular, as televisions become internet connected, Apple will seek to provide content distribution and no manufacturer will opt for exclusivity to any one provider.