Amazon paired Fire TV with Nick Nolte. Google tried Kevin Bacon in their Google TV ads, while Roku’s used families and customer testimonial commercials in an attempt to make waves. Until the arrival of Apple’s 4th generation Apple TV, the company was content to do virtually nothing to advertise their cord cutting device. Not since the original Apple TV launched in 2007 had Apple delivered a single television commercial. While Apple sat back, satisfied with its “hobby” gaining modest sales via word of mouth, the challengers took sales leadership. Signs that things would change for Apple TV’s fortunes began in January, 2015, when Apple CEO, Tim Cook, announced Apple TV had sold over 25 million units. The "hobby" phrase, often associated with Apple TV from Apple’s management was dropped, and signs were in the air that the company was about to get serious with Apple TV.
Apple’s all-new 4th generation Apple TV has already been singled out as having the best voice recognition in the market, with a well conceived interface and remote. Apps built specifically for Apple TV and the A8 processor underneath its skin all hold promise for the platform. But it is Apple’s marketing arm which is finally pumping some muscle behind the product, promising to break open Apple TV’s position into the market leader.
Rumors have recently surfaced claiming Apple is now taking 4K seriously, and will deliver a higher-end Apple TV with increased graphics capabilities. And while the number of 4K sets installed in homes today still sits within single digits, by next fall, virtually every set above 47" will sport a 4K display.
Moving Apple TV further into market leader position could be their much talked of TV bundle for cord cutters. While negotiations have stalled, Eddy Cue, Apple Sr. VP of Software and Services, has suggested Apple may be ready to move on single channels, rather than continue to push for a network mini-bundle. While this may prove to be more costly to the consumer, if Apple can secure a few heavy hitter networks, such as EPSN, FoxNews, or regional college network bundles, the Apple TV adoption rate, with an increasing decline in cable subscriptions could quickly force Comcast’s hand in providing NBC/Universal content at reasonable prices.
A new, high-powered Apple TV targeting 4K and gaming, coupled with a few high viewership networks, wrapped up in Apple’s powerful marketing arm, which is already increasing Apple TV’s awareness amongst consumers, is a winning combination for Apple TV. How soon Apple can get there, and how serious is the commitment to do so, are the lingering questions.
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