The advantage that each brings is content in volume, and, increasingly, content on demand. After all, that’s what we want. Content on demand, anytime, on any device. Whoever can provide access to the most content wins. Who will do that? Apple.
Strange TV Bedfellows
The television industry is complicated and Apple wants to make it simple. How does the immovable object fare against the irresistible object?
So far it seems to be a stalemate but cracks are beginning to appear on both sides. Apple is changing positions and so is the television industry.
The problem is not technological. The problem with getting TV viewers what they want– content on demand– is the antiquated, fragmented, highly politicized industry.
Everyone has a finger in the television industry profit pie and no one wants to allow anyone to enter, let alone dominate the landscape the way Apple dominates online music sales.
Look at the players. Set top box makers. Cable TV companies. Satellite TV companies. Standard TV stations and TV networks. Cable TV networks. TV show and movie producers and distributors and retail stores (which hawk DVDs), and online stores (which sell even more content).
Party. Crasher. Not.
How did Apple get invited to the party? And what gifts does Apple bring to the players? Look to iTunes and the music industry as the original gateway for Apple. The company added movies and TV shows– for a price– which benefits the industry as a whole, and gave Apple entry to the party.
Technologically, video on demand is relatively straightforward. Digitize the world’s content, create huge data farms, distribute the content over the internet. The problem is all those players who currently get a cut of the distribution and profits.
This is a situation that Apple cannot easily disrupt, but it can play within the industry with Apple TV. How? Get the cable TV companies in on Apple TV, and make that the set top box instead of the antiquated boxes they use now as receiver, channel selector, and DVR.
Look at iTunes Radio as an example. It isn’t so much a free internet radio service as it is a way to sell and buy music while listening for free. Without question, Apple and the music industry will make a lot more money than Pandora or Spotify or any of the subscription or radio models.
Apple needed AT&T to get the iPhone in front of millions of customers, knowing they would fall in love with the device and Apple’s famed way to creating a pleasant user experience. Cable TV and satellite TV are not pleasant experiences, but if Apple can have a future version of Apple TV overlaid between the cable and satellite boxes and the wide screen TV, everyone playing keeps a slice of the pie, Apple sells more content to viewers who can also use Apple devices to view content everywhere, and everyone wins.
Everyone? That really depends on your definition of winning. If winning is cutting the cable TV cord or satellite connection, that just won’t happen. Someone needs to pay the freight and as much variety as there is on YouTube, a steady diet won’t be as healthy as network television.
Instead of disrupting an industry that is long overdue for change, Apple is simply going to join the enemy, but create what may well be the best new way to watch television.