John Sculley Says TV Market is Apple’s to Lose

John Scully on Apple TVEven though Apple calls its current TV offering a “hobby,” former Apple CEO John Sculley believes that a move into the TV market is “Apple’s game to lose.” Mr. Sculley was asked his thoughts on an Apple television effort by Bloomberg, and he said that Apple has the tools to do what no one else has been able to do, own the living room.

“They own three screens — the mobile phone, tablet and computer — and you can see how important it is to them to own the fourth, which is TV,” Mr. Sculley said.

Mr. Sculley said that the strength of its ecosystem was a major strength for the company, calling it a “huge advantage.” He said that Apple specialized in both improving the user experience and then keeping that experience consistent across the different devices and services it offers.

“People don’t realize how huge this is,” he said. “Microsoft wanted the living room, Sony wanted the living room, and so far both have failed.”


Rumors and speculation about an Apple TV have been all the rage for at least the last two years. They were raised to a boiling point when Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography was released in October of 2011, shortly after the iconic Apple cofounder passed away.

In that book, Mr. Jobs is quoted as saying that he had “finally cracked [the code]” on how to make a good interface for an Internet-connected TV, de facto proof that Apple was working on something big for the TV market. Mr. Isaacson later said in an interview that he had left out details about the TV project out of respect for Apple’s plans for the market.

Since then, a wide variety of rumors and leaks out of Asia have talked about TV screen sizes, test devices, and ever-present reports that Apple was just about ready to ship something, even though nothing has actually shipped yet.

Bloomberg talked to Mr. Sculley about the topic after renewed rumors from The Wall Street Journal said that Apple was focused on a full featured settop box rather than a full television set. A follow up report said that Apple was going to include a cloud-based DVR that would “erase the distinction between live and on-demand content.”

Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co. threw more fuel on the fire on Friday by issuing a research note that said an Apple TV was in production.

John Sculley

Mr. Sculley is best known for three things: Being hired by Steve Jobs to run Apple, alienating Steve Jobs to the point that Mr. Jobs left Apple to form NeXT Computer, and for championing the Newton handheld computer that Steve Jobs killed when he came back to Apple in 1997.

Mr. Sculley has often spoken very positively about Mr. Jobs since that return, and in September of 2011, he said that Steve Jobs was the only person who could saved Apple.

Also of note in the Bloomberg piece was a minor note about Mr. Sculley not having read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. “I lived it — I don’t need to relive it,” he said.