Apple was an early pioneer in the digital distribution of music and video with the iTunes store. But will it be a player in the next phase of content distribution? The iPhone maker has been stalking Hollywood for more than a year, talking to leading industry figures and companies while it tries to formulate a cogent video strategy. It has considered a range of acquisitions and targets including, most recently, Imagine Entertainment, the Hollywood production company owned by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, according to several people briefed on the discussions. The discussions were serious enough to involve Apple CEO Tim Cook and Eddy Cue, its senior vice-president of internet software and services. The talks included a possible "first look" distribution deal of Imagine films and television shows, as well as an investment by Apple — or even a full purchase. But, as with many other potential deals involving Apple, the discussions fizzled out. Imagine, whose productions range from Apollo ...

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