It Makes No Sense For Apple to Create Original TV Content

4 minute read
| Particle Debris

The Particle Debris article of the week is at CNBC.

The author, Anita Balakrishnan, echoes my own thoughts. I also believe, that at first glance, it seems to make no sense for Apple to get into the original TV content business. When I think about this effort, I think about all the wannabe companies who have thought that making their own smartphone would be a good idea. Apple’s initiative also feels like copycat envy.

Apple's TV app on multiple devices, now including the Crackle app.

Even if Apple’s stuff is as good as the rest, do we really need a glut of it?

Of course, one might surmise that there are deeper reasons for this project from Apple. But for now, I’m thinking like the CNBC author.

There’s nothing special about providing consumers more to consume, especially when companies like Amazon have built their entire businesses on it.

This approach is especially poignant in light of Apple’s approach to the hapless 4th generation Apple TV. It came out late because there was an attempt to tie it to a subscription deal that failed. It didn’t have 4K capability. Apple has been very low key when it comes to promoting its support of the 4K/UHD revolution.

Only recently, have we seen signs that Apple is planning to re-ignite the product as it did with the Mac at WWDC. Whether that release will be accompanied by Apple getting more involved with the TV industry, partnering, joining standards committees, advertising cool hardware in all the right places remains to be seen.

On Monday, August 28th, my Background Mode podcast guest will be Former Apple Senior Director Michael Gartenberg. We discuss this issue in much more detail.

One possible reason for Apple to get into the content business is the expectation that they will have a tougher time in the future closing deals for content. Already, we’ve seen how the studios are thinking about pulling out of Netflix and connecting with customers directly via custom apps. Provincialism reigns. In an analogus fashion, perhaps Apple see’s difficulties down the road in its customary 30% take (less in the case of Netflix) and wants to secure a digital beachhead with its own content and 4K/UHD/HDR Apple TV.

The entertainment industry is fast moving and cutthroat. Even so, and even with seasoned studio executives brought on board, such as Matt Cherniss, the former president of WGN America plus Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg who were both presidents of Sony Pictures Television, Apple is reaching far—in uncharted waters.

That speculation aside, author Balakrishnan makes great sense with her opening and closing.

It doesn’t make sense for Apple to make TV shows. Reverse-engineering content to fill up space on someone’s screen is not an inspired strategy….

So my message to Apple is to do more than make a movie. Think different.

Finally, what good is me-too original content if the flagship delivery system, the Apple TV, has been left to sink into 4th place in the market?

Next Page: The News Debris For The Week Of August 21st. Germany takes an ethical lead on autonomous cars.

9 Comments Add a comment

  1. geoduck

    I’m glad SOMEBODY has had the courage to point out that the Emperor has no clothes. Apple’s efforts in the content area have been late, lame, and ludicrous. A reality show about App developers and a retread of a tired sketch dropped from someone else’s late night TV program. Utterly cringeworthy.

  2. ibuck

    Rather than entering the content industry, Apple should improve the content of their software (with corresponding improvements in hardware). I’d like to see Apple focus on improving the user experience with existing and future devices. Voice recognition on their products is not up to Apple’s preferred level of excellence, and dictation is pretty frustrating. There should be different modes (or levels) of voice recognition with different vocabularies to draw from, not one size fits all (with or without names). Say, one for everyday users, one for technological jargon, and one for folks with more erudite vocabularies. And be able to switch between them on the fly. They desperately need better AI to at least discern the context and use for “there” and “their” and “they’re,” or “its” and “it’s.” Apple used to say “No” to a lot of things and focuses on doing a few things very well. I’d like to see them return to that.

  3. John Q

    The whole premise of Apple focusing on providing tools for creation, not consumption, was left behind when it achieve mainstream success.

    It’s now a behemoth that caters to a far larger, broader user group, the vast majority of which are not the traditional creatives that helped sustain it through the hard times. And of late, it has displayed a real reluctance to invest in product lines that it no longer considers its core business (OS X) or of a particular Fortune-list size.

    Services, and user lock-in are what all these large companies aim for now, and if Apple doesn’t give people a reason to buy in, stay in, and continue to buy Apple hardware, it will shed users. Snapchat and Instagram are not exclusive to Apple, they’re cross platform.

    Apple Music, and TV/Video (or whatever they call it) are reactive moves. But they don’t detract from the hardware business, they supplement it, and are part of Apple’s growing services business.

    And all of this coming from someone who considers themselves “wizened” at the age of 25, with the premise that user-generated social media content and being “different” will sustain the world’s most valuable company? LOL. Spoken like another fresh MBA with no experience.

    Apple doesn’t strive to be Different any longer, just Successful.

  4. Jamie

    For the first time in awhile, I agree, John! 😉 I don’t want a tech company to morph into my cable company, either. I would like LESS intrusion into my life from Silicon Valley, not more. Dubiously acquired success has gone to a lot of these folks’ heads, methinks, no different than Gates 15 years ago. I personally feel the time is waaay past to regulate.

  5. Old UNIX Guy

    Personally, I wish they’d take that billion dollars and invest in it making and selling a Pro laptop since they currently don’t have one of those in their product lineup…

    Old UNIX Guy

  6. geoduck

    I’ve been thinking about this since Friday. I realized that I don’t watch a lot of TV any more. We got a Netflix account last year. My wife uses it a fair amount, I’ve watched maybe a couple of hours in the first month and then never opened the app again. I seldom turn on the TVs themselves. I’ve watched a few things, but they’ve been streaming from free cites. For the most part I just don’t watch it. What have I been doing? A lot of art. I’ve gotten two books published. I’ve written a lot of new stuff. I was in a play this spring and will be in another this fall. TV has just for the most part fallen off of my radar. A decade ago I would get upset if I missed an episode of my favourite show. Now I’ve missed whole series and don’t really give a damn. I couldn’t even tell you what’s scheduled, or even what’s hot now. My last foray into TV was last fall when I seriously looked at an AppleTV. In the end I realized there was no reason for me to get one. If it weren’t for my wife I’d cut the cable completely. So if Apple does come up with a bunch of fantastic shows, it likely won’t make a tinkers damn bit of difference to me.

  7. pjs_boston

    Apple is getting into the content business for the same reason Apple created Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

    Apple needs to create content as a credible threat to Netflix and Amazon on iOS. This will help to ensure that these companies make their content available in Apple’s ecosystem.

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