On the other hand, I have an Apple TV 4K and a new 55-inch 4K HDR television which seems to scream out to me, “Must have 4K video content now!” The cable TV company doesn’t have it but I can get the 4K content elsewhere. Some of it from Apple.
Egg, Meet Chicken
There are times when I worry about the pace of technological development. And other times I wonder when humanity will ever adopt smart home technology, let alone wearable implants. How long has 1080p video been around? In public, just a few years, relative to the decades we suffered with what we’ll affectionately call 480p. Think Andy Griffith and Captain Kirk.
My parents love my 4K HDR TV but they have no way to access any 4K content without jumping through some hoops, signing up for Amazon and Apple’s wares, then paying through the nose via Prime and iTunes TV.
Is there a better way?
Well, kinda sorta and mostly, but not yet for the masses. First, you need a device that can display 4K TV. Recent model iPhones do, and so do a few Samsung models, and a growing number of televisions at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, et al. But those TVs need streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast, and Apple TV. Then you need some kind of subscription service to get enough 4K content to make it worthwhile.
All of those pieces come with a price tag and it’s difficult to convince my parents, who grew up watching five television channels coming in through an antenna– for free, that high resolution television content is worth the expense.
That scenario is repeated ad nauseam across the good old U.S. of A., and probably in even greater numbers in the rest of the world. It’s chicken and egg. Or, egg and chicken. But either way, we TV addicts who want higher quality content have to pay the piper one way or another. iPhone, Apple TV 4K (Roku et al, too), Amazon Prime, iTunes, fast interned connection.
Apple’s strategy to date seems to be one of, 1) patience; waiting for the market to mature a bit, or, 2) sideline sitting; providing hardware to keep Apple the platform of choice regardless the platform, or, 3) build a content library of high quality content for customers on Apple TV and all Apple devices, or 4), all the above because it’s not like anybody else is sweeping into the market and taking it over.
Netflix, Amazon, DirecTV Now, Sling TV, Hulu TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue TV, and a host of others all have streaming TV services which, well, stream much the same thing in various packages that look like cable TV from the 1990s– 20 to 50 channels, some with local channels, but all somewhere around the same price tag.
Where is Apple? Apple TV 4K as a hardware platform for someone else’s content. Outside of that, you have to buy an iMac with a 4K or 5K display and still use someone else’s service, or dip into the few iTunes 4K options.
I hope Apple’s strategy here is patience and the few billion dollars we see the company pumping into original content, Netflix style, will pay off with a platform the iPhone maker will be proud of and customers will sign up to use over any other.
The competition is making noise but it remains all quiet on the western front (Cupertino).