Some say Apple’s inability to pull off content deals with resistant networks is hampering the diminutive little device from being a runaway success. Others have said Apple TV is dated due to a lack of hacking features that no longer work, while others are bemoaning the fact that Apple has not updated its disappearing-in-couch remote, nor has Apple added voice control. None of these are major issues slowing down Apple TV.
At the heart of Apple TV's problems is the entertainment industry itself, and the reason is simple.
TV is a fragmented mess.
Cable powers, led by Comcast, own a majority of the networks which they provide. The FCC allowing pipe providers to own cable networks was a massive screw up (corruption anyone?). For these pipe+network overlords to give Apple the content keys and solve customer problems only serves to usurp their own power and revenue stream.
Hollywood poses another issue for Apple. The film industry has disseminated products like Apple TV through gorilla warfare economics. A bit of old and affordable content finds its way to Netflix, while other movies make it to Red Box. Apple, Amazon and cable providers pay for the latest releases releases, but are forced to charge steep rental fees as a result. Movie studios have effectively staggered releases through a varied pricing scale, which in turn has created staggered releases. Consumers that want to watch a movie on the day of its release can pay a high price and watch via Apple TV. Those that are unwilling or can’t afford such prices decide to wait a few weeks – or months – for Red Box, while others choose to hold off another six months to a year for some titles to arrive on Netflix.
Through steep pricing Hollywood has sidelined Apple from delivering a solution that most consumers can afford. Cable powers control the other side of the coin with draconian bundle deals. Dish Network’s Sling TV streaming solution offers promise, but it is a long ways off from going mainstream, and lacks any reasonable movie selection.
Like watching a slow motion train wreck, the entire television industry has been slowly pulled a part, piece by piece. Cable operators hold sway with costly bundles due to their large cable network ownership. Hollywood has fragmented movies. The end result is the consumer gets screwed. This is the ever-continuing pattern.
Apple launching an all-new Apple TV could prove to be be a compelling solution with 4K gaming, 4K movies, Apps, voice and motion control. But without Apple being able to bring together live streaming of various cable networks which the consumer chooses (massive bundles need not apply), and an affordable movie solution, Apple cannot be the great market disrupter at which it excels.
Until Apple can punch through and bring the fragmented TV mess together with flexible and affordable content prices, it is best they continue focusing on end-to-end hardware and software solutions. The only other option is for Apple to buy their way into content via massive losses, but Microsoft is the poster child of showing why that strategy rarely works.
Apple TV simply does not have the ability to contain all the content and pricing characteristics it needs to be a runaway success. And with that, long live Apple Watch!
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