It would be nice if the cable companies could adopt some kind of common encryption standard so that every TV could be built with a tuner capable of viewing someones digital cable package. Currently most TV's can only view unencrypted OTA channels.
I know it'll never have happen, but if they could adopt a common format, then they could build the tech into TV's and we wouldn't need cable boxes.
The whole reason cable boxes keep spreading is because people continue to transition from analog to digital, and analog didn't need cable boxes.
There is the CableCARD standard. It think most cable companies support it. I can only assume cost is the reason it isn't built into TVs. Either that or cable company's fear someone will break the encryption and they'll have to upgrade it just like in the classic satellite days when we went through video cipher, video cipher II, video cipher II RS, Digicipher, etc. I believe there were also publicized hacks of Dish and DirecTV requiring them to change the credit-card modules inserted into the receivers.