To be fair, there is much to like about Apple TV but it’s not 4k video. It’s not apps as channels (still more difficult to move from one channel to another than a cable TV remote). What’s to like? Hope. Hope, that one day Siri and the clumsy remote and the giant list of channels and apps will amount to something and halt the device’s ongoing marketshare skid, and make it a delight to view television again. That’s important, right?
On Metrics; And Metrics
eMarketer came out recently with new data that proves Apple TV remains something of a streaming TV dud, falling well behind industry leaders Google Chromecast and Roku TV. While Google and Chromecast battle it out for the top spot in so-called user marketshare, I’m here to tell you that it– marketshare– is only one metric that does not tell the whole story. And any numbers you read about such products are mere guesstimates since not one of the industry’s players publish unit sales, or usability data.
After all, though, Apple TV is more expensive than competitors; three times the price of Roku TV and six times the price of Chromecast, so one could be forgiven if they would simply recognize that Apple TV owns the revenue share and profitshare of the streaming TV industry on math alone.
There are many metrics that could define success, but marketshare– whether sales or usability– often is the least valuable among them. More important is profitshare because that keeps the lights on and the doors open. Also not listed is usability share– how much a product is used by owners. It’s arguable that Chromecast is more complicated to set up than Apple TV, so how many of their buyers actually view TV shows, movies, games, et al on their respective devices? And, for how long? Nobody knows but Google, Roku, and Apple, and they’re not saying. Everything else is a guesstimate, an estimate– because such numbers are as easy as wiping after a burrito lunch.
Marketshare is not an important metric unless it is tied to a number of substance. For example, let’s put the iPhone’s marketshare at 15-percent vs. Android at 80-percent. iPhone’s share is insignificant by comparison, but since there are about 1-billion iPhone users, there is a huge number of substance that brings in more revenue and profit than any number of Android device makers.
The same holds true for Apple TV. What we don’t know– when comparing Apple TV’s user marketshare to Google Chromecast or Roku TV or similar products– is anything about usability, or user engagement; two metrics which should be more valuable than user marketshare, but especially sales marketshare. If all three device platforms have the same view time user marketshare– or, usability– then Apple TV is an expensive loser. How many of the devices sold are connected and used regularly? And for how long? We don’t know. Manufacturers are not saying. How many hours are devoted to each device, on average, each day? Nobody is saying, which is much the same as not knowing.
Most of these streaming TV devices function much the same way. Plug them into a TV video source. Set it up to begin streaming. Sit back and watch. How does that differ from watching cable TV. In fact, all these new streaming services, including AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Sling TV and others, are pretty much like cable TV channels and packages from 30 years ago except they’re delivered over the internet to better TV’s with higher resolution, or on smaller, mobile devices with higher resolution.
Otherwise, only the quality and variety has changed. The process is much the same. But the next time you read or someone tells you that an Apple product is losing against a competitor because of some variation of marketshare, ask for a few numbers that matter more. There are plenty.