Where is Apple’s alternative to cable TV? What about Apple’s version of Sling TV? Or, a competitor to Google’s YouTube TV? All we have from Apple is Apple TV, TV shows and movies for rent or purchase, TV apps, and games.
On the surface it might appear as if Apple is woefully behind competitors and there are many. Google’s Chromecast, Roku, Amazon’s Fire stick, and others are redefining cable TV. Or, are they? Apple seems content to sell an expensive addition to a TV’s second input option. What’s going on?
Perhaps the first thing we need to do is to remember that Apple is Apple; marketshare for any product isn’t the most obvious objective and Apple’s executives are not likely to tell us anyway.
The second thing to remember is that television viewing– video viewing– is undergoing a sea change of monstrous proportions all across planet earth. Here in the U.S. cable TV is in the midst of a transformation, too. 300 channels and fewer people watch cable TV this year vs. last year. Where did they go?
That’s the transformation and that’s why we don’t have an Apple streaming TV service. The changes are obvious. People get their daily dose of video from many devices; not just TV and not just the cable television company. TV networks have their own applications and streaming services. Startups like Sling, YouTube TV, Amazon, and others stream traditional video content in the way of TV shows and movies to many devices and multiple platforms.
Let’s assume for a moment that Apple introduced a bundle of streaming TV networks. So what? Plenty of those exist already. What would Apple bring to the streaming party that isn’t already here? Online DVR? Even Google YouTube TV has that. 4K HDR? Apple TV 4K brings that, but the higher quality is in short supply among content makers.
Apple seems very content to remain the premium input #2 device for most TVs and just another way for people to stream videos regardless of the source. Research guesstimators say Apple TV has about 25-percent of the TV dongle market. Too bad for Apple, right? Except Apple TV is priced higher to revenue and profits remain typically Apple. What we don’t get are numbers regarding viewership (usage) and how much money changes hands between customers and vendors. Google’s YouTube TV, Sling, Amazon, and other streaming services haven’t actually reinvented cable TV. It’s still cable TV from 30 years ago but with higher quality and more options.
There isn’t a streaming TV service from Apple because Apple doesn’t need one. Yet. Once executives figure out where they can drive the market, Apple will remain a hardware company.