Just in case you thought the often discussed / as yet unseen Apple HDTV rumor mill was dead, you were wrong. The Wall Street Journal is reigniting things this evening, with sources claiming that instead of competing with cable providers by starting up its own IPTV offering, Apple has switched to sweet talking pay-TV providers into offering their content through its box. If you're still looking for a Cupertino-embued display you may be in luck, since the anonymous parties also indicate the set-top box tech it's working on could be integrated with HDTVs. That is still an less than certain path at the moment however, given pay-TV operators current preference to control every element of the experience and relationship with consumers, as well as the split of profits.

According to the Journal report, Steve Jobs was "dismissive" of attempts to build a cable box since cable operators each only have limited regional exposure and don't own the content they license from studios. Since then however we have seen a few offerings of cable and satellite TV beyond the box as Microsoft offers Verizon and Comcast apps on its Xbox 360, Samsung has brought providers directly to its smart HDTVs and many providers offer streaming access via iPad or other mobile devices. Still, since the rumor doesn't indicate a deal is inked or even on the way, we wouldn't hold our breath for any or all of the listed possibilities to come true any time soon.