Why does Apple TV deserve to exist?

Since writing Peak Cable six months ago, surveys, research and analysis have contributed to the themes of unbundling the TV package. The data under scrutiny is, as usual, the data that can be gathered. Unfortunately the data that can’t be gathered is where the insight into what is happening may lie. For instance, what matters for an entertainer is not how much you’re watched but how much you’re loved. Measuring love is done poorly with data on payment for subscriptions.

A better proxy might be time. Liam Boluk makes the point in his post that “focusing on cord cutting or even cord shaving largely misses the point.” Don’t follow the dollars, he says, follow the time or engagement. “Relevance” is what matters.

His data shows how linear TV has fallen by roughly 30% among the young (12-34) in the last five years. The trouble for the TV bundle (and advertisers) is that this is the most culturally influential group. They are also the group which will grow into the highest income group over the next decade. And this group does not love TV.

We have to remember that it was the youth who drove early radio, TV and consumer electronics markets. Those young are now the old which still cling to the old media, served by companies that grew old with them. They are the “high-end” customers with which Nielsen itself has grown. They have the most money to spend and they are the targets for the ads[1]

Paying $150/month to watch incontinence and erectile dysfunction ads—at a time not of your choosing—is preposterous for the young. They may like the programs but not the way they are packaged, delivered or interrupted. They are not smarter than their parents. They, like their parents, took to new technology more quickly. What makes the technology new is also what lets its makers separate the content from its delivery. These new technologies allow “modularizing” or unbundling that which was was integrated/bundled and thus allow their developers to focus on the customer’s real jobs-to-be-done.

Unsurprisingly, incumbents have responded by throttling access to original programming–an asset over which they still exert influence as distributors. Netflix and Amazon are taking the path of responding with their own blockbuster productions. Although Silicon Valley has more capital to deploy than Hollywood  this battle of attrition is by no means one that incumbents will win, and generally, it’s not going to be pretty.

Tweaking the nose of the incumbent might not be the way to establish asymmetry. The better tactic may be to help the system survive but offer a “short-term alternative”. This is how iTunes took on and won Music. When Napster and file sharing created a clear and present danger to the industry, Apple’s approach of a controlled alternative allowed the industry to finally move to a digital download model.

An observer in 2004 would have said that Apple was bowing to the industry and providing it sustenance against “disruptive” free music. However, as behavior shifted to an overwhelming preference of iTunes downloads over physical media, the music labels found themselves in an untenable negotiating position. They had to concede on DRM, pricing and bundling itself. The music disruption occurred with a tacit acceptance and collaboration by the incumbents.

Is history repeating? Looking at the situation around TV today, the strategies of the challengers can be summarized in a similar way:

  1. The content low-end: Now, YouTube, Twitch. Then, Napster, Gnutella
  2. The distribution low-end: Now, Netflix, Amazon. Then, incumbent music download sites.
  3. The nominally sustaining: Now Apple TV. Then, iTunes

Apple cannot play an “ignore me” strategy because as much as investors think the company is irrelevant, everything it does is closely watched by anybody who might be even remotely touched by it. Especially in entertainment.

In addition, due to brand considerations, the company cannot ship low-quality or no-quality product, including material that sits on its platform.

They have to do something different. Something more complicated and something that takes much longer.

What Apple best contributes asymmetrically is a new experience. The experience allows new behavior, new usage models and hence new loyalties to emerge. The loyalties create affinity which shifts the “love interest” for the user. The new Apple TV attempts to provide such a contribution. Not only in terms of the experience but also for becoming, finally, a platform for developers, who will try to make the product itself better in collaboration with Apple. Thus the “new experience” flips when bits which are streamed cohabit a device with bits which expect a consumer response.

This “appification” becomes an interesting experiment in behavior alteration. Will “couch time” change from pure passivity to partial interaction?

To the orthodox adherents to the religion of linearity of immersive programming this sounds impossible. But why else should a product deserve to exist? A great product is one which changes the user and for Apple TV to become great it needs to engage us to do something different than we do today. It needs to make us feel we are better for using it.

Is this new Apple TV up to it? We’ll have to wait and see. But then again, if not this one, then another one will. TV will not remain unchanged forever.

  1. no longer the Pepsi generation, they are the Depend and Viagra and pharmaceuticals generation []
  • obarthelemy

    Also, the only way to watch the video content you purchased from Apple is on an Apple device, so Apple might as well make a few extra hundred bucks off of you ?

    To be thorough, you could also put a Windows PC in your living room… but none of the traditional media players (Roku, Fire…) are allowed to access your iTunes content, so Apple has a big and rich captive market. Why not profit from it ?

    And reciprocally, Apple *must* offer something for you to play your videos on the big screen with. Hey, let’s call it a hobby !

    • Dan Andersen

      Your comment is very confusing…

      First, Apple TV is the most “traditional” of media players, i.e. it was the first such device.

      Second, media purchased from the iTunes Store can be played on devices made by companies other than Apple.

      • obarthelemy

        I’ve looked around about other iTunes-compatible OEMs.. Roku isn’t, Fire isn’t, Chromecast isn’t, anything Android isn’t, I could find no smart TV that was… Which non-Apple, non-Windows device have you found that can play iTunes movies ?

        Sorry, I should have said “usual”, not traditional. . They seem to have less than 20% share.

      • Dan Andersen

        I’ve looked around about other iTunes-compatible OEMs…Which…non-Windows device have you found that can play iTunes movies.

        And you thus excluded the largest platform that supports iTunes movies. Why?

        (Remember that your original comment was, “…the only way to watch the video content you purchased from Apple is on an Apple device.” Clearly, that is incorrect.)

        aTV seem to have less than 20% share in the US, certainly lower still elsewhere.

        Nope. Here’s your “traditional” and “usual”:


      • obarthelemy

        I’m not sure how your links are relevant:
        – first one is about Amazon ban not hurting aTV sales. Mmmm, OK, so what ?
        – second is about Apple users spen,ding more on pay-TV than others. Apple users spending is is a knwow fact by know, that’s pretty much the definition of an Apple user.

        It doesn’t change the fact that Apple is barring customers from accessing their iTunes movies on anything but Apple devices (and Windows), which is *not* “freedom”, and is a straight lock-in move. And aTV does have only 20-ish percent of the US market, less abroad, so no, it’s not “usual”.

      • thompson_97

        How can it be a lock-in move if Apple allows these videos to be played on Windows? I think this proves that it is a move of quality control. At least on Windows Apple can control the complete user experience by making an application that manages everything.

      • obarthelemy

        How do they have any more control on Windows than on Roku, Fire, Chromebox, Android… platforms on which all other video providers are having no issue making their content available ?

      • Dan Andersen

        My first link contains charts and references that radically disagree with the data supplied by your link from numbers-for-hire firm Parks Associates. Read the article again.

      • obarthelemy

        Do I have to explain the difference between TV boxes and all streaming-capable devices, ie including mobile devices ?
        We’re taliking about TV boxes in this post, I think ?

        From your linked article, the TV-box US marketshare:

      • Dan Andersen

        That is not from my first link. Try again.

      • obarthelemy

        Mmmm…. it’s from your SECOND link. It’s “your link” too, right ?

      • Dan Andersen

        See my prior comment above.

      • obarthelemy

        Well, and see mine, you’re missing the difference between tv boxes and all videos players including mobile.

        your own link has an nice drawxing about that. Maybe you should read
        your own links… We’re only
        discussing the ** TV BOX ** part of video playing. Where’s that /blink
        tag when you need it ?

      • Dan Andersen

        How frustrating…

        Go to my first link (seekingalpha). Look at the first graph (the histogram).

      • obarthelemy

        Do you understand the difference between Streaming Media and TV boxes ? It’s like miles of road traveled vs miles of road built.
        We’re talking about media boxes sold, *not* media streamed, so road built not road traveled.

      • Dan Andersen

        And still you persist…

        Despite the referenced histogram’s title, it is showing Statista’s data on BOX sales. That would be obvious if you had simply looked at the x-axis labels and read the two paragraphs above the graph. Let me you the trouble—I’ll quote them here:

        “Apple Insider recently published a report by Parks Associates that claims that Amazon had higher market share than Apple in 2014 in the U.S.

        “Statista has a completely different take on 2014 streaming devices market share in the U.S. in which Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are lumped into the Other category.”

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        Dan … don’t bother. He’s already seen it. He doesn’t like facts 🙂

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        It’s obvious that you have an ax to grind. You chose the same graph that YOU HAD LINKED yourself, which also was included in the Fortune article (I don’t know why … they don’t even reference it in the text of the article) …. but you decide to skip the BIG graph, which negates your narrative: Namely this one:

        Or this one from Adobe:

        Or this one from Seeking Alpha:

        I know it doesn’t support your narrative …. but those are FACTS. You seem to have an aversion to facts 🙂 Are you by any chance, Republican??

    • Sacto_Joe

      You’re just slightly off target here. We’ve seen this so many times before, even recently. I’m really surprised you keep missing it, obart. Well, not really. I’m pretty sure your very aware of it indeed.
      Apple is focused like a laser on giving it’s existing users the best overall experience possible. It learned a long time ago that the best advertising is done by happy customers. Did it develop the Watch to conquer the market in watches? Did it develop the new iPad to conquer the market in large tablets? Did it improve the Apple TV to conquer the market for TV widgets?
      The answer to all of these is – no. It developed them, as it has developed so many things in it’s past and will develop everything in it’s future, for one reason only: To give their users the best overall experience possible. It doesn’t matter if ApplePay has competitors, or Apple Music, or Apple TV. It doesn’t matter that Android sells more “smartphones” than iOS. It only matters that the existing customers are happy in their Apple continuum.
      Apple is like the world’s largest snowball rolling down a near-infinite slope of snow. As long as it keeps it’s users happy, the snowball will continue to grow. And Apple TV, like everything else, will inevitably grow along with it.
      So all your smarmy comments about a “captive audience” and such are revealed as nothing more than a pitiful attempt to belittle something whose power rests, not on “enslaving”, but on freeing.
      Nice try with the reality warping, obart. No cigar.

      • obarthelemy

        2 questions:
        1- If Apple is that on freedom, why doesn’t it let its customers view their videos on other devices, like every other video reseller ?
        2- You say Apple’s goal is excellence. Are you mind-reading Apple execs, or taking PR at face value ?

      • thompson_97


        (1) Apple is legitimately concerned that the user experience on those other devices will be substandard, and they don’t want their products (in this case the videos) to be associated in any way with a substandard experience. Hence their control focus.

        (2) Well not only do the executives state this goal persistently, but the quality user experience provided by most Apple products is the proof in the pudding. You may not be particularly impressed with Apple, and you could certainly point to a few less-than-stellar Apple offerings over the years (even before Jobs’ death) but over 800 iOS devices have been sold now, and over 90% of the users are delighted by these products.

      • obarthelemy

        1- No other video provider has any issue about being on pretty much all platforms, and there’s no user complaints about issues, so where do you get that idea from ?
        1b- Are you saying that for aMusic, Apple don’t care about user experience ? Because that one is going to Android at least

        2- User experience is entirely subjective, and unless I see double-blind tests, I’ll treat it for phones the same as for wine and audiophile cables: beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and mostly in the packaging), or even in what the beholder thinks is in the eyes of those that behold him/her. I get how smooth scrolling is nice to have. I don’t get how tap-to-wake, widgets, wireless charging,… are not equally so.

      • Tatil_S

        No user complaints? I tried watching Netflix streams on my Panasonic BluRay player. The quality was atrocious. Went back to hooking my laptop to TV.

      • obarthelemy

        Again, not a TV box.

      • Tatil_S

        It is a TV box that can also play disks. Don’t hate it, just because yours cannot. 🙂

      • obvious

        A double-blind test is obviously impossible so I have no idea what you’re blathering about this time.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        Amazon doesn’t want to be on other platforms …. so your statement is incorrect (as usual). I’m sure you can’t play videos from the Microsoft Store on Apple TV …. I don’t blame them either. They want to sell Xboxes ….. Just like Apple … the want to sell their devices. Of course they don’t have an incentive to make it work on other devices. Guess what, iOS apps don’t run on Android (and vice versa). Why should they?

        User experience is not subjective …. it’s a scientific discipline, and has experts, researches, journals, conventions, etc. it’s a huge industry. Not at all like Wine Tasting or Audiophiles. And tap-to-wake is stupid …. it defeats the whole purpose of “accidental input” which “lock/sleep” functions are trying to avoid. And we know you don’t get it …. you seem to not get anything …. on purpose 🙂

      • obarthelemy

        “Amazon doesn’t want to be on other platforms”. Erm*Version*=1&*entries*=0

        “User experience is not subjective …. it’s a scientific discipline, and has experts, researches, journals, conventions.” As opposed to winemaking and sound engineering which have no journals, experts nor conventions ?

        ” And tap-to-wake is stupid” you’ve never used it have you and have no clue how it works ? But don’t let that prevent you from having an opinion…

      • art hackett

        Barto’s take on user experience is obvious. Maybe his day job is extracting what he wants to hear from prisoners at cia black sites.

      • surferboi

        It’s called DRM bro, and it still exists for every digital media retailer out there. So, show me a service that offers DRM-free studio content, and I will show you one with a very shortlife wit the studios. So much blame for Apple for stuff that they have zero control over.

      • Jmaharry

        Excellent post, studded with all kinds of insights and understanding. A certain creepy subset of Windows and Android users is obsessed with Apple and with demeaning consumers who choose Apple products and services who, judging by Apple’s success, seem pretty happy with those choices. Their cant is always the same: insults and smears and lies about the cost of products, walled gardens, uninformed buyers, etc. they remind me, with their rigid preconceptions and near panic over things they don’t understand, of Tea Party ideologues. The thing is, there is virtually no matching group on the Apple side of the ledger. We just don’t give a shit about their crappy hardware, their deplorable UI, the overall lack of taste it design.

      • art hackett

        I still can’t decide whether it’s hilarious or appallingly pathetic that people (?) like barto have continuous frothing at the mouth tantrums about Apple and its snowballing success. It’s like he’s being forced to use it, or sees himself as a (very angry) saviour trying to return us to the true Lord and master.

    • Glaurung-Quena

      “As long as it’s not “something to play your locked-in videos with”…”

      You have a serious bee up your bonnet about this “lock in” thing. To hear you talk about it, it’s a horrible crime that Apple media will only work on Apple devices.

      But you don’t seem to understand that other people don’t give a damn that their Apple digital purchases are only useful on Apple hardware. Either they don’t care because they are perfectly happy with their apple devices and can’t imagine ever wanting to buy a non-apple device (so the point is moot to them)… or they don’t care because they tend not to buy DRM’d digital media, and when they do buy such media, they strip the DRM from it (so the point is moot to them)… Or they don’t care for the same reason that they don’t care that their LP collection cannot be played on their CD player, or that their Microsoft software will not run on a Unix system: they accept that re-buying content, however annoying and expensive, is an inevitable part of the cost of switching between one ecosystem and another.

      One way or another, not everyone cares about lock in, and your inability to comprehend that simple point looks, from here, a lot like the willful blindness of religious fanaticism.

      • obarthelemy

        Your analogies are wildly off:
        -” they don’t care that their LP collection cannot be played on their CD player” shoudl be ” they don’t care that their LP collection cannot be played on anything but an RCA-brand turntable”
        – “that their Microsoft software will not run on a Unix system” shoudl be “that their Microsoft software will not run on a anything but a Microsft-brand computer”.

        See the difference ? That’s what the issue is.

      • Kizedek

        No. The vast majority of their LP collection can be played on any turntable. The LP’s they happened to buy from RCA can only be played on their RCA turntable. Since they (freely) bought an RCA turntable they happen to love for a variety of reasons, they went ahead and bought the RCA LPs. See the difference.

      • obarthelemy

        Mmmm… the difference is: all LPs can play on all turntables, except the LP they bought from RTCA can only play on a RCA turntable. And that’s… freedom… for RCA-LP-buyers… ?

        Top me, we’re having a high fallutin’ discussion about Apple TV, and what it means for streaming boxes… when the overwhelming raison d’être of the Apple TV is it’s the only way to stream your iTunes movies to a TV (unless you want to install a PC in your living room).

        Apple is in the business of selling devices, indeed. Next year, you’ll get to buy the 4K version, and it will be magic ! (and overpriced). Lock-in is nice, for the locker-in, especially when the locked-in think it’s freedom…

        Edit: also, Apple’s dickishness about not letting other players play their content is contagious, now you can’t play Amazon videos on Apple’s player, either.

      • Kizedek

        Are you sure about Amazon? I thought they simply withdrawing one of their apps from the App Store or something, thinking people would buy a Fire instead (good luck with that). I don’t know about Amazon videos because I never tried one. I do buy books from Kindle sometimes, though.

        I don’t see the problem you are seeing, though. I occasionally buy songs/rent movies (I don’t tend to buy videos) from iTunes, because I have a device or computer to play them, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. That’s my prerogative as a free individual; it’s convenient, and we like our Apple devices enough to justify it.

        I really don’t give my song library a second thought when I think into the future about what devices I may or may not ever own.

        I must say, we don’t buy Wii games any more (maybe picked up one or two at garage sales): can’t say how long this Wii unit will last, and don’t anticipate buying another since the value in owning that device just isn’t there.

        What I do give a second thought about is productivity through UX, consistency, build quality, etc. Therefore, Apps is another story — but I tend to buy those precisely because I specifically like the way they work on OS X or iOS, and how they work between my devices. Services (like Dropbox) tend to be portable between platforms, but tend to have better apps on the Apple side. I could subscribe to Adobe creative services for example, but I am quite happy with the 30-dollar Pixelmatr.

        All this to say: Customer satisfaction comes into it a little more than “lock-in”. Though I realise that may be hard for you to grasp, since all you harp on about is the supposed coolness-factor.

      • obarthelemy

        Well Apple TV’s ecosystem is fragmented from the iPhone’s, and no Amazon on it for now.

        Your explanation is exactly how Apple works: lure them in with “easy+sexy”, lock’em in with content and interdependent devices. You’ll be paying Apple prices for a loooong time.

      • Kizedek

        Eek, I think you’re right: I am addicted to ease of use and continuity between my devices. Darn Apple, I wish my productivity and work was a whole lot more frustrating. Then I could save a few bob at the expense of my time and easy-going nature.

      • obarthelemy

        Don’t delude yourself: your devices are no easier and no continuitier than everyone else’s. I was sending texts from my desktop and remoting both ways from a comfortably-sized phone years ago…
        For 1/3rd of the price…

      • Kizedek

        Not easier …but somehow iOS accounts for majority of all mobile browsing, majority of all mobile online purchasing, majority of images and videos uploaded to a number of social sites…

      • obarthelemy

        Actually, iOS no longer accounts for the majority of mobile browsing. Didn’t check for social and ecommerce.
        Edit: and iOS no longer leads in appstore revenue, either.

      • Jmaharry

        Exactly what Apple device, service or piece of content is overpriced?

      • jfutral

        “I don’t see the problem you are seeing, though. ”

        That’s because he is making the problem up. In reality there is no problem. He is simply trying to create his own RDF.


      • tmay

        You are wrong. It’s Amazon that decided not to support AppleTV with an App. When it comes back to bite them, will they capitulate and create an App for the AppleTV?

        My Magic8Ball says “yes”.

        Oh, and that AppleTV with 4K; that’s likely two years or more out, and with the minimal amount of content available, makes that a wise choice for Apple. Plenty of alternatives that aren’t iTunes if you can’t live with 1080P. Frankly, the only thing I am looking forward to is HDR; 4K is completely oversold for video and film streaming at the bandwidths and screen sizes that most people actually have, and my preferred media, BD, won’t transition to UltraHD until spring of next year. At that time, I’ll purchase an UltraHD player and continue building my film collection with the best expression of the cinematographer’s intent.

        Apps are the news though, and FireTV doesn’t have them, and it doesn’t have Siri search, so, all else being equal, I find that I have a better value with the 64 GB AppleTV than I would with a more limited FireTV, and i can play casual games that I probably already own on my iPhone/iPad.

        I’m also an Amazon Prime member, and I find than Amazon has the worst menuing and search of any I have tried, so I won’t miss, nor do I care, whether Amazon capitulates; I’m not buying a Fire anything to view Prime, not will I be purchasing and downloading media from Amazon.

        Your “lock in” is my comfort zone, and I’m happy in Apple’s “walled garden”.

  • ph11

    I think the idea that delivering a “short-term alternative” is a plausible way to successfully perform and be permitted to perform the job-to-be-done.

    However, If the job is to smoothly identify and make available large format video, I think we are still waiting as most content is still not readily accessible for a reasonable price. Specifically, I don’t see the analogy between iTunes and AppleTV: isn’t a necessary element something more like iTunes pricing? The iTunes store offered near universal (at least for American/European popular music) coverage with, for its time, reasonable pricing. I don’t think this is yet the case for video. Purchasing a television program episode for $3 seems too high.

    Viewed from another direction: the existing iTunes store provides much of the video universe save sports. And this is clearly not enough. It seems that some way to deliver live sports plus lower prices for contemporary (not older) serial television programming is necessary. But, using Netflix at roughly $10-12/mo as a data point (and presuming that Netflix is doing the best it can to acquire content at reasonable prices and stay in business), I think that the incumbents will require substantially more payment for newer programs (see HBO Now at $10/mo). And this moves into $60/month territory very quickly.

    Perhaps the key will be to retain advertising BUT better targeted? Hulu has not been so successful but perhaps, with sports, the tipping point will occur?

  • David Leppik

    I like how the question is posed, but I don’t see how AppleTV is disruptive in the same way iTunes was. Music studios were monolithic entities that controlled content production and distribution. In this case, the studios and cable companies are different organizations–although the cable companies often own the studios. And it’s additionally complicated because cable companies often also have a monopoly on video-grade internet access.

    Apple is offering the studios (mostly TV channels and Netflix) the ability to provide apps that users can search via Siri. Apple isn’t offering the cable companies anything. Apple isn’t creating lock-in with the TV screen, the way they locked DRM-based music stores out of iPods. If Apple decides they don’t like Netflix, they can’t keep out the Roku or disable the TV’s built-in Netflix support.

    In short, I don’t see any game-changing features that you couldn’t get with a Playstation 2. Even if it is slick enough to kill off Roku, Nintendo, X-Box, and Playstation, it won’t fundamentally change the dynamics between the studios, cable company, and cable/internet customers.

    But then again, Netflix is already changing those dynamics with or without Apple.

    • obarthelemy

      There is lock-in if people get their shows from iTunes instead of multiplatform providers such as Netflix et al.

      • Kizedek

        Others have already spoken to this. Providers such as Netflix aren’t in the hardware business. They are in the business of selling subscriptions.

        Apple isn’t trying to sell you an iTunes subscription — it is giving a person one more good reason to buy Apple hardware. If you are happy with your hardware, you will buy from Apple again.

        Basically, you have it entirely backwards. People aren’t shopping for a good media service, finding iTunes, deciding to invest in it, and then going, “darn, I can’t use this as freely as I thought I could”. Rather, people are finding that their Apple device was an even better investment than they thought — as we continually try to tell you.

      • obarthelemy

        You missed the start of the argument, which was about someone saying Apple was about freedom. That was funny.
        The selling hardware vs selling content thing did not come into play.

      • Space Gorilla

        For many of us Apple does afford us more freedom. For you and your needs, that is not the case. And that’s fine, people are different and have different needs. Your intolerance of these differences is disappointing.

      • obarthelemy

        Yep. You just have to redefine what freedom means. That’s what magic is for, I guess.

      • Kizedek

        Not really. You just don’t have to have some higher standard and notions for it regarding media and computing devices, than you do for anything else in life.

        I own my car. Doesn’t mean I can “do anything I want with it”. And just because I can’t do “anything I want with it”, doesn’t mean the manufacturer is particularly suppressing my “freedom”. I can’t for, example, put diesel in my benzine car. Well, I can, but the manufacturer doesn’t recommend it and won’t stand by it if I do. Naughty manufacturer.

      • obarthelemy

        The car is a good example: what if you had to have a certain brand of car to use certain roads ? That’s what Apple is doing, with roads = iTunes movies, and cars = TV boxes.
        Other cars, and other roads, let you mix and match and travel anywhere you want…

      • Space Gorilla

        “what if you had to have a certain brand of car to use certain roads”

        We have exactly this now. Some types of cars cannot travel all roads, or in all conditions. If you were living my life a BMW sedan would not be an option for you. This is part of freedom being contextual.

      • obarthelemy

        lol, just lol. That’s what I get for using cmparisons to explain stuff to… sme people. The French term for your argument is “capilotracté”.
        Please do explain how a device that plays all videos from all privders but Apple cannot play Apple videos ?
        Then square your explanation with it being able to play Apple music.

      • Space Gorilla

        I think I’ll just end the discussion, you have a strong incentive to not grasp the point I’m making. Explaining it in more detail won’t be helpful.

      • obarthelemy

        How convenient.
        I’m guessing you still own Apple stock, too ?

      • Kizedek

        Interesting. You are suggesting that besides the public infrastructure of roads that anyone can use, Apple customers can also use the private infrastructure designed by, paid for, built, and maintained by Apple? Yes, that sounds about right.

      • obarthelemy

        Indeed. Only it’s roads that go the exact same places as the other roads, and are priced much higher, and force you to have only Apple cars, garages, baby seats, gasoline…

      • Kizedek

        You’re really stretching. I can get media from just about anywhere, and make it available to my iDevice through iTunes or some other player, thus using those other roads if I choose.

        So, if they go the same places, and I can use either, what’s the issue? Of course, Apple roads tend to be cleaner and better maintained, with less traffic, so I suppose that could account for any price difference.

        Actually, I do compare iBooks and Kindle before I make a purchase. Sometimes one is higher, sometimes the other, depending on the book. iBooks is the better app, so, naturally, I tend to drag any ePub/PDF/etc., into iBooks (unless it’s DRM’d by the vendor).

        Anyway, you’re not making sense. You are being very circular. There are apparently these Apple roads; and as we established, they are made available to Apple customers. Only, you keep going on about how Apple forces users of its roads to use Apple cars. No, I have an Apple car, and I get to decide which road to travel. An Android car owner doesn’t get to choose the Apple road.

      • obarthelemy

        “you keep going on about how Apple forces users of its roads to use Apple
        cars. No, I have an Apple car, and I get to decide which road to travel”

        Mmmmm… logic failure ?

      • Kizedek

        The failure is in your inappropriate use of the word “forces”.

        You’re like a tabloid newspaper headline screaming “Airline forces granny to redeem air miles”. Only it didn’t. It actually gave her air miles. She can, if she so chooses, redeem them at some future point. Or not.

        Of course, there may be a limited number of airlines she can redeem them with (depending on partnerships). But since all the airlines fly to “all the exact same places”, she can pretty much make any number of choices.

        She could, for example, go first class on a nice airline and use the air miles to make it affordable; or, she could find a discount deal with some other carrier, and hang on to the air miles, to use in some other way.

        Either way, she’d probably have to use the terminal and gate specified, and the seats and seatbelts, etc. provided.

      • Space Gorilla

        Freedom is contextual, I thought that was obvious. What you’re selling here is intolerance, plain and simple.

      • obarthelemy

        Well, we’re in the context of watching movies. Freedom is the freedom to watch my movies on any device. What you’re selling is hypocrisy, plain and simple.
        Granted, it’s a relativ freedom because DRM, but since that’s equal on any platform, we can discount that, thank Invisible Spaghetti Monster.

      • Space Gorilla

        You have not grasped what I meant by contextual. I understand how you want to define freedom, and from your perspective/needs it makes sense. But you are still intolerant when it comes to admitting that your own experience of freedom does not mirror the experience of everyone. There is no single definition of freedom. There are many limitations and boundaries that exist as part of your life, and each person differs in this regard.

      • obarthelemy

        Frankly, kicking it up to philosophical levels is utterly irrelevant. We’re talking about movies and the freedom of watching them. We can try to novlang it into “unlocked-in” if using big words for small problems opens up too much opportunity for diversionary tactics. “But is man ever really free ?”
        You’ve bought movies. Freedom in movie watching is being able to watch them on anything able to play video you have at hand.

      • Space Gorilla

        This is the beauty of contextual freedom, you are free to define it as it relates to your experience. But it is still intolerant to impose your experience of freedom on others.

      • obarthelemy

        Please do explain how it relates to you movie watching experience, and how being locked-in is central to that experience ?

      • marcoselmalo

        You you are able to watch Netflix while offline? If you cannot watch movies at the time and place of your choosing, you are not absolutely free. Now, please defend your absolutist position while maintaining that context and degree are redefinitions.

      • Kizedek

        No, I didn’t.

        “It doesn’t change the fact that Apple is barring customers from accessing their iTunes movies on anything but Apple devices (and Windows), which is *not* “freedom”, and is a straight lock-in move.”

        “There is lock-in if people get their shows from iTunes instead of multiplatform providers such as Netflix et al.”

        It comes into play, because you used the phrase “lock-in” in both places.

        In your mind, iTunes represents “lock-in”, and “multi-platform” does not. I point out that these are two different business models that are unrelated to “freedom” in any real sense.

        I am free to enjoy my iTunes content, because I already freely chose to purchase an Apple product that utilises that service.

        If I had not chosen an Apple product (or one for which iTunes is available), I would not be free to enjoy the iTunes service.

        Meantime, I can also still enjoy my Netflix subscription. And my wife, who has a Galaxy device, is free to exercise her choice to enjoy our Netflix subscription on any device in the house other than her Samsung device, because she doesn’t enjoy using that for Netflix as much. See how that works?

      • obarthelemy

        This is so absurd it is funny.

      • Kizedek

        I agree, it’s all rather absurd. Your whole idea that “ownership” means I can do whatever I want, but only when applied to Apple products, is extremely absurd.

      • obarthelemy

        Mmmm… I never talked of ownership ? Why are you throwing that in ?
        I’m talking of lock-in. Lock-in is linking one thing to another, so that switching is more expensive. Like locking your videos to your hardware, which is what Apple is doing, and is entirely unnecessary.

    • SubstrateUndertow

      Channels are one way static affairs.

      Apps are interactive, random access, programable, network-effect affairs.

      Add to that a large amount of developer imagination all riding in atop a vast Apple ecosystem and there you have it ——> the difference!

      • marcoselmalo

        Apps provide a big opportunity for the content producers that were regularly shut out from the incumbents’ distribution machine (tens of thousands of scripts get rejected, many hundreds of projects die in development, buttloads of pilots get made but not picked, and those that do get picked are cancelled if they don’t rapidly build an audience).

        There are a lot of avenues for monetization unavailable to linear programming that go beyond advertising. A lot of these avenues are already available via putting your programming on the Web, but having an app on the App Store (and I imagine on Amazon’s app store, soon enough) will streamline this. The “Content Container App” can support creators selling additional digital content and physical merchandise directly to their audience, for example.

  • Fran_Kostella

    Speaking as a iOS developer, the ability to extend my apps into this large display device is very, very appealing. As an app strategy, being able to send small things to a watch and something like a C&C dashboard to a TV is just what I want. I imagine some games will use this to good effect.

    Will this allow Apple TV to dominate the large display? I don’t know, but it might draw more iOS customers to the device when their apps tell them that there is a TV version of the app that enables new uses.

  • peter

    The job of the TV is to offer cheap immersive entertainment to the family (that is, it is nothing more than a large shared screen for immersive experiences). Traditional TV used to meet that demand, but cable is no longer cheap and advertising-addled programming is barely immersive.

    The Apple TV is a bit of a “see what sticks” approach: 1) maybe it is playing iTunes content, 2) maybe it is games, 3) maybe it is streaming TV, 4) maybe it is shopping apps (the holiday channel works a whole lot better if it allows you check out a few hotels and then book), 5) interactive TV or music quizzes, 6) access to sports content that does not ‘fit’ within limited capacity traditional channels, …

    It is hard to predict which of these uses will be a winner, but in retrospect it will seem obvious that 1) there was an unmet need for cheap family entertainment and 2) that inferior programmable digital boxes would improve much faster than traditional linear TV.

  • r.d

    Same people that controlled Cable also control the last mile
    of your internet connection. This is US/Canada specific problem.

    So disruption will take place where it matters.

    Rest of the world thrive on illegal content taken from torrents.
    Apple doesn’t serve that market either.

    • mieswall

      And how is that different than the record labels in 2001, prior to iTunes; or the carriers in 2006, prior to iPhone?

      TV and cable business as we know it is dead. I give them 2, 3 yrs at most to fade in complete irrelevance. Starting this weekend, when the first TV boxes arrive to customers.

  • You know, I am only a stupid client that wants to see, hear, interact
    from no matter tool (PC, Tablet, Smartphone, Box…) when I want, what I want,
    from 19xx to today, without Ads or any other kind of publicity. If the price
    will be correct, say from 10 to 30 bucks a month, I think that you (The X
    Corporate) and I (the people) will all be happy.

    My humble opinion is that today this technologically possible, can be simple, but
    there are some factors here: the greed (money), the wanted complexity that make
    us to lose our time and the fancy words that complicate our life.

    Oh, and yes, I will still go to watch a good movie in the old fashion,
    at the cinema.

  • Honestly, I am not a fan of Apple TV. When I wanted them to be an open platform and support things like Plex, they said no, convert everything to MP4 and play it in itunes, which is ridiculous, as dumb as Sony making an MP3 player that avoided playing MP3s, because they didn’t want people to pirate. Because of Apple’s long, long avoidance of reasonable platforms like Plex, which was only allowed via jailbreaking, I will use another system, likely Amazon’s.

    • Sam

      I think you are missing a lot of background. 2 points.

      First the short, hardware acceleration.
      The first AppleTV had a weak Intel chip with embedded Nvidia GPU that contained h.264 hardware acceleration. No hardware chipset at the time had xvid/divx hardware acceleration. This AppleTV was based on Mac OS X 10.4

      Second generation AppleTV was based on iOS with a new AV Foundation to replace QuickTime. This also allowed video hardware acceleration based on Apple’s ARM chip’s GPU.

      The second is point is patents.

      Remember when all PCs with DVD players used 3rd party bundled software to play DVD-Video discs? That’s because Microsoft didn’t want to pay for the MPEG-LA video patents on every single copy of Windows that they sold. Windows couldn’t play xvid/divx or many other video formats without the user installing codecs or other video/media apps.

      Apple didn’t want to get into that type of mess since they were already the cap on MPEG-LA MP4 patents. Apple didn’t want to also have to pay for the MPEG-2 video patents since most AppleTV users would be buying MP4 content from Apple anyway.

      Xvid/divx codecs and even the MKV container are in legal grey areas in many jurisdictions. Just because it’s open source doesn’t mean it doesn’t violate someone’s patents.

      If you are Apple, why open that can of worms for compatibility sake, when you are already paying the cap rate on MP4 patents? Most of Apple’s users will never be affected.

      If you are Apple trying to make deals with the Hollywood Studios, it’s probably not a good idea to have out of the box compatibility with legally grey codecs/containers that are the most popular formats for the piracy of your partners content. (Not accusing you of piracy)

      Seems like Apple made the best decision for themselves. Personally I wish Plex was available since the AppleTV 2 came out in 2010, but I’ve been handbraking my DVDs since 2008. Hopefully the AppleTV 4 will allow Plex (it’s in review on the App Store) stream directly from a NAS instead of a Mac/PC running iTunes.

      • Very good points, thanks. That said, this is why I, a guy with a NAS with movies on it and an Intel NUC running in the living room will probably pass on Apple TV, at least unless Plex comes out with a great version that supports it.

      • transcode

        You’ve been able to airplay whatever video you like to your Apple TV for years. Just have your server transcode it on the fly if it’s incompatible.

      • Hmm, it’s not the same thing, though. I believe that means I have to give up a computer, or have the fans whine while I use it?

        Anyway, the core idea is that Apple not allowing AVI/MKV to play on its hardware, for whatever reason, made it the least useful of the major TV boxes, despite a few nice things like iTunes integration. If Apple can’t be “elegant” in something as important as solving a TV playback problem, then that’s an area they need to improve in. Presumably with this new push we should see Plex support them, the question is how long it will take for support to be brought in.

      • transcode

        No, you don’t have to give up the computer, and it shouldn’t be an expensive transcode unless you have very weak hardware. Plex also does on-the-fly transcoding.

      • surferboi

        Simple question here: is MKV a industry-standard ISO/MPEG file format? Following up, does Microsoft, inventor of the AVI format, officially still support the format? Answer to both questions is no. Now don’t get me wrong, I do a great many of the same use cases as you do. But you have to accept that our use cases are in fact esoteric. Cannot expect Apple to fill every nitch, and over the years, we have found alternatives. With the ATV4, it’s only gonna get better.

        Take your Plex and Infuse. They’ve already announced they are launching an app for ATV4. Here is a perfect example where more people can access new media streaming use cases with no jailbreaking and no knowledge of funky app tweaking on older machines. So, bottom line, ATV4 will do a ton more things because of the App Store, and make it easier. What’s to complain about?

      • marcoselmalo

        Thanks for clarifying. Your position is completely reasonable. My initial read of your first comment made me think you were avoiding out of spite.

    • OgCrackersMagee

      Aaaaand plex is now available on Apple TV.

  • Balaji Anand P

    @Horace…the trend which you have indicated seems inevitable…the below link shows how organised TV content has found its way to customers in a modularised fashion…Cuba, a country with very low internet penetration…

  • surferboi

    There is an interesting conflict between the target demographic for certain services and the generic streaming device market. For example, lots of folks are commenting that the ATV4 is a failure since there isn’t a linear video service. Aren’t they missing the point? We have that all over the world; it’s called a cable bundle. To quote Horace “His data shows how linear TV has fallen by roughly 30% among the young (12-34) in the last five years.” So, why pay insane license fees to studios for a linear service that will be more expensive than basic cable, just to move it to a device with a better UX? Patience is in order; we don’t know what it will evolve into until we understand the impact of app in the TV space.

  • We got ourselves a new Apple TV for Christmas and experienced ‘partial interaction’ for the first time with Airbnb’s pre-baked app. I was skeptical at first given the need for input (location search) via the remote and user generated images not being so great through the big screen. The track pad somewhat overcomes the input difficulties of the past and the property images looked fine. Syncing with the Airbnb iPhone app was a pretty neat experience – browse and save property on TV, then enquire via the phone (makes sense). Very interesting to see if developers can find the right ‘partial interaction’ angle and for TV apps to really take off en masse. The internet of things continues…