If ever there was a technology company that could disrupt a staid old good-old-boys industry, it’s Apple. People hate their cable TV providers, hate the gargantuan monthly bills, and are shifting viewing habits to other venues (YouTube comes to mind).
The television and cable TV industries are ripe for disruption, and we the people, are ready for a change. So, what’s taking Apple so long? It can’t be money because Apple has more money than most developed nations. The problem is the industry itself; a hard nut not easily cracked. Apple has upended industries in the past, here’s how it can be done again on your TV.
Start Strong, Don’t Stop
Apple’s methodology to churn out product hit after product hit has hit a snag with the television industry, which like the music industry that Apple conquered years ago, is a closed society of fiefdoms where everyone shares a slice of the pie; cable TV operators, TV networks, television stations, content producers, actors, advertisers; almost everyone gets a slice of the entertainment pie except the hardware makers– those who manufacture the TVs.
What can Apple do to disrupt the industry (other than spending $100-billion to buy all of it; something I advocate)? Start strong, don’t stop. Remember the iPod? It was a bit overpriced and Mac-only, but it worked oh so well that everyone, including Windows users, couldn’t wait to get one. But that music industry disruption took many years.
Apple has been playing with TV for years with Apple TV, a hockey puck sized device with a few tricks up the sleeve, but nothing to write home about, and now with many competitors. Apple TV is a hobby and hasn’t had serious love from Apple’s engineers since Kim Kardashian was unmarried. Hobby? The selection of channels has always been lame because Apple didn’t have much of a revenue pie to slice up. Buy a few TV shows or movies, click to watch YouTube or a laundry list of secondary video channels, and you’re done for the night. That’s hardly an industry disruptor, no?
No, what Apple needs to do here is stick with game plan. Upgrade Apple TV so it’s actually a useful device that the masses won’t mind buying, add some developer options so Games for Apple TV becomes a thing, and make it so useful that people would consider dropping their cable TV subscription to latch on to Apple’s view of the entertain, news, and information future.
That’s no mean feat because Apple TV’s content to date has been utterly lame and the user interface completely uninspiring. Change both and make the device desirable, then offer a streaming television service which includes options to rent movies and TV shows not offered in the subscription.
Apple’s success with television will mirror its success with the music industry. Start strong, don’t stop. And by strong, I mean a desirable hardware and software combo– like the iPod and iTunes was back in the day– and make it affordable and attractive and make sure everyone knows Apple TV is no longer a hobby.
That can disrupt the entire cable and television industry; not all at once or even the first year, but Apple is a patient, disciplined company which has the resources to make sure that hardware, content, and software are ready.