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Apple's Next Buy: Hulu?

The on-demand provider of streaming movies and TV shows could provide valuable content for Cupertino's mobile and desktop platforms.

Apple is said to be in talks to acquire the online video service Hulu, according to published reports.

Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal both cited unnamed individuals familiar with the talks in reporting Thursday that Apple is mulling an offer for Hulu, which streams on-demand TV shows and movies to computer users over the Internet.

Hulu currently is backed by NBC Universal, News Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, and other private partners. The company has said publicly that it is seeking a buyer and has engaged investment banks to negotiate a deal. With cash and equivalents of $76.2 billion, Apple is well positioned to make a cash offer for Hulu.

Earlier, it was reported that Microsoft had an interest in Hulu but backed out of talks. Google has also been cited as a possible buyer.

Hulu could provide Apple with valuable content for mobile products such as the iPad, sales of which were up 183% in the last quarter, and the iPhone. The company could potentially offer Hulu content directly through its App Store or through Apple TV, while continuing to operate Hulu.com as an independent site.

Hulu works with a number of recently launched apps for Apple's iOS mobile operating system, including Fanhattan--an iPad app that, among other things, lets users search for TV shows and movies, view ratings and related content, and watch programming on Hulu Plus. iPad users need custom apps to watch shows on Hulu as Apple does not support Flash on its devices. Hulu streams content over the Web in the Adobe format.

Hulu also is available on Google Android and Microsoft Windows devices. It's not clear what an acquisition by Apple would mean for ongoing support on those rival platforms.

An Apple spokesman said the company does not comment "on rumors or speculation." Shares of Apple were up.72%, to $390.31, in morning trading Friday.

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