To date, Apple’s efforts in the content production and distribution arena have been profitable but traditional. Apple sells music, TV shows, movies, and distributes traditional media in a somewhat traditional way; online via iTunes. Meanwhile, competitors to iTunes have gone where no non-traditional businesses have gone before. Will Apple follow?
To Sell, Or Create?
Google, Netflix, and now Amazon– all competitors to Apple’s traditional iTunes business– have ventured in different yet oddly similar directions than Apple. Content creation which bypasses the traditional content making apparatus in favor of a new paradigm.
Amazon has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to create unique, attractive, and highly regarded creative content. Amazon Studios helps content creators to publish and distribute independently produced content.
Likewise, Google has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars in YouTube studios to sponsor a platform for unique content creation and mass distribution. Even Netflix has made the adjustment from purveyor of traditional content– VHS and DVDs– to original content streamed online.
These and others are direct competitors to traditional TV networks, the cable television and movie industries, slowly, steadily taking viewer eyeballs away from standardized content, opening up new creative and new methods of distribution.
Where is Apple? What is Apple doing to combat these direct threats to one of the company’s profitable revenue streams (iTunes)?
There’s no Apple TV. There’s no Apple TV service. There’s no original content sponsored by and distributed by Apple. Why?
Apple is a hardware company. Unlike Google, Amazon, and Netflix, Apple has entered middle age, a near senior citizen with wisdom and discipline, but less able or willing to venture into an industry segment rampant with change and disruption. The disruptor of the past is being disrupted by the present. Apple has the resources and money (they’re not always the same) to outdo whatever Google, Amazon, and Netflix have cooked up, but the company has always been content to be the purveyor of fine hardware, not the leader of an industry that can only be described as incestuous, fickle, and self absorbed.
The iPhone maker was happy to drop more than $3-billion for Beats to give a sagging iTunes business a shot in the arm, while Google, Amazon, and Netflix have spent far less to create both new content and new distribution methods.
Apple’s conundrum is simple. To remain a hardware company content with building the devices which are used to view all forms of new content, or, like Google, Amazon, and Netflix, become involved in the creative process.