Apr 132011
 

A long time ago, a small Cupertino company discovered that the more elements of the computer (and later the consumer electronics) experience they controlled, the more people would be willing to pay for the fruits of their labor. They developed their own computer, smartphone, media player and TV set-top box operating systems, designed the boxes they came in, strongly controlled the components that made them up, and dominated their purchasing experience. The company enjoyed decades of nosebleed-margins, accolades from followers, envy from producers of lesser goods, best-in-class reviews and were the darlings of customer satisfaction surveys across the land. Their products were held up as examples of what technology could be.

One day, the company decided to get into the television manufacturing market, a low-margin commodity good that had dozens of major brand competitors that had been in the market for decades. The Cupertino company already made a modestly-successful and arguably best-in-class TV set-top box that allowed viewers to rent, purchase or stream media. Some of their would-be competitors were already working with another major tech company on an operating system that provided similar, but inferior capabilities. Others manufacturers had their own deployment of integrated “apps” from providers of video and music streaming services – both paid and free. Despite all this, the logic of “we have a buttload of cash from doing all things that aren’t this successfully – what else are we going to spend it on?” proved too compelling for their normally shrewd and trend-leading CEO, so they plowed headlong into one of the most established markets in consumer electronics, second only to radio.

One of the paragraphs in this story make sense. One of them is the analyst’s equivalent of petroleum jelly and a JCPenny catalogue lingerie section.

  6 Responses to “Please Shut Up About Apple Making a TV”

  1. Amen! More people need to take this advice. (Including the click-baiters at MDN…)

  2. One day, the company decided to get into the cell phone manufacturing market, a low-margin commodity good that had dozens of major brand competitors that had been in the market for decades. The Cupertino company already made a modestly-successful and arguably best-in-class music player that allowed viewers to purchase or stream media. So they plowed headlong into one of the most established markets in consumer electronics, and the rest is history. iPhone anyone?

  3. Actually, the company decided to get into the smartphone market, which had been around for about a decade – and then they released the iPod Touch. The phones before the iPhone that used touch were shitty implementations or ports of the Palm PDA OS. They were also hobbled with carrier crapware, were horrible with media and had no real developer sandbox. It was an environment ripe for a hardware intervention.

    I take your point, but there’s a ton less to be improved upon when it comes to TVs. When it comes to innovations in accessing and sharing media, I definitely think Apple can and will lead the way, but it won’t be with an Apple-branded TV set.

  4. I agree completely with the gist of this article, and the sentiment to shut up about Apple building a TV. We all have invested $$ in big-ass TVs already and how many would be willing to replace them just to get streaming services added that could also be added by a little black box attached to it? There is a lot more that can be done with the hardware built into the current aTV or a next generation version plus Apple’s data center. There is little innovation needed in the TV part itself.

  5. Even though Apple is a juggernaut in terms of its media catalog, it’s the studios and networks that still have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the golden age of digital content, much like print media is starting to do, and the music labels before them. For movies and television, it’s about letting common sense influence how ownership is defined.

    So the battle isn’t for hardware, it’s for access to what you show on it. There’s a lot more money per property at stake, which is why the content producers are bucking so hard to lock it down. Jobs is probably the only person that can make headway with studio/network knuckleheads who would rather let billions get torrented before they allow more rights attached to what I own when I buy a DVD.

  6. I wonder if Final Cut X (or is it Pro X?) is the first salvo in a new strategy. What if apple has tired of getting nowhere negotiating with content owners and is now trying to create a vast army of content producers? These new producers are not beholden to the networks or studios, so can have their content streamed a la podcast style, through app/iTunes store interface. There’ll be an explosion of new video content (like the explosion in audio podcasts & digital tracks). The existing content holders will follow along, eventually, when they see their old model drying up and blowing away.

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