While I always assumed that one of Apple’s biggest living room breakthroughs would come in the form of a truly service-agnostic “iTV” iPanel, there are many who believe that the country’s cable providers are too locked-in to their own delivery systems to let that dream come true.

According to GigaOM, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield has thoroughly dissected Apple’s options in the space and has come to a particularly counterintuitive conclusion:

Apple shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel …but instead partner with DirecTV or Dish to launch an Apple TV product with access to live TV feeds.

Why settle for a satellite-based provider, you ask? GigaOM answers that question succinctly:

Cable operators are regional, so Apple would have to partner with a bunch of them to get its Apple TV service off the ground. …

The solution could be to partner with a TV provider with a national footprint that has little to lose, according to Greenfield. Someone like Dish or DirecTV. And once those guys rake in the big money, the cable boys will come to their senses and eagerly partner with Apple as well.

Of course, if Apple’s goal with the so-called iPanel is complete ubiquity, they can little afford to limit the product to any single carrier’s coverage. There are a heck of a lot more cable subscribers than satellite subscribers, and killing the hype of Apple’s TV with the sour revelation that it’ll only work for a select lucky few would be a marketing and adoption nightmare.

But I’ve got faith in Steve. If he says he cracked it, then he cracked it. All we’ve got to do is sit back and wait.