BusinessWeek: Apple may need to play better with others

“For Apple to make the most of its peerless products, experts say it will need to improve relations with the folks who create the content to run on them,” Peter Burrows reports for BusinessWeek.

“At Macworld, studios including Disney and News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox are expected to announce support for a new iTunes movie rental service. Fox and others are also expected to make their newest releases available at iTunes, something only Disney currently does. But Apple is clinching such deals in part because of its newfound willingness to compromise, say sources. Apple has agreed to increase the wholesale price it pays to studios, from $14 to closer to the $16 they get when they sell a DVD to Wal-Mart, say people familiar with the negotiations,” Burrows reports.

“It doesn’t help that Apple’s newly introduced Apple TV, designed to send movies wirelessly from the home computer to a TV, has met with criticism for having poor resolution and offering access to movies only through iTunes. ‘In the music business, [Jobs] made a confusing situation simple,’ says Abe Peled, CEO of set-top box software maker NDS Group, which is 72%-owned by Rupert Murdoch. ‘With video, he is trying to make a simple solution difficult. People don’t need one more box on top of their TV sets.,'” Burrows reports.

MacDailyNews Take: “People don’t need one more box on top of their TV sets,” says a guy who sells software for non-Apple set-boxes who may or may not be worried that Apple’s box won’t be added next to his box, but instead replace it. Thanks for the newsflash, Mr. Burrows. Why don’t you just post Abe’s press releases verbatim next time? We know, we know, that’d be more work than you put into this article. And Apple TV is capable of high resolution, it’s Hollywood and/or Apple who have to bring the high def content to iTunes. Don’t incorrectly blame the hardware.

Burrows continues, “Of course, Apple could always adapt to a new paradigm in music or video distribution, but it may well require a greater degree of cooperation than Jobs will abide. Says a media titan who recently approached Jobs about exploring ways to work together but didn’t get far: ‘Steve doesn’t want partners.'”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Navy Tim” for the heads up.]

“Steve doesn’t want partners,” says one guy — sorry, nameless “media titan” — who perhaps had nothing of value to offer? Apple seems to partner perfectly well when they want to do so (examples: Disney, O2, CBS, Fox, AT&T Wireless, Google, etc.). Have fun trying to find “experts” in Burrow’s report who “say Apple will need to improve relations with the folks who create the content.” We can’t find any “experts” in Burrows’ article, unless, if by “experts,” Burrows means “Apple’s competitors and spurned suitors.” The one independent-seeming fellow in Burrows’ article who might be labeled “expert,” eMarketer analyst Paul Verna was quoted as saying, simply, “Everyone is flexing their muscles to prove they don’t need each other. But the truth is, they do.”

33 Comments

  1. He is correct when he says people don’t want another set top box, at least with respect to some people (like me). I would love for Apple to add digital-cable compatible DVR capabilities that seemlessly integrated recorded TV with iTunes. It would be an improvement even over TiVo, especially if they worked out a deal with Open Cable that worked around the copy protection sent over digital cable signals. These signals cripple features like TiVoToGo.

    Apple has said in the past that it’s not interested in moving into the DVR space, but it would definitely be a way to get more of a hold in video.

  2. Who is the “media titan”. I would say MDN, not to assume because they didn’t publish his name that he isn’t someone that is big. It could be the president of Paramount for all you know.

    However, it is more likely that it is somebody from a small independent studio.

    However, Apple should play nicer. They do a very good job at cooperation, don’t get me wrong. But it wouldn’t hurt them to bend a little. I would rather pay $4.99 for an episode from NBC than have to go to Amazon to get the same thing for $1.99. It is more convenient for me to use iTunes than it is Amazon’s stupid “Unbox”.

    Maybe playing just a little nicer would have kept NBC on iTunes (though at a higher rate).

    Whatever, I guess it doesn’t matter because Everyone (including me) loves everything apple is doing, so forget about the other guys.

  3. I agree that people don’t need an additional box (or a new mess of cables) attached to their TVs. As it is right now, I only have an Xbox 360 attached to it, which I use to watch DVDs, and stream my iTunes, iPhoto, and video content to my TV from my Mac (via Connect360)

    The only way I think Apple could turn an Apple TV purchase from frivolous to sensible is to allow people to replace an existing living room device with it. Perhaps by incorporating a DVD/Blu-ray player for instance.

    Although being able to use it to stream rented movies may be enough to entice me…..

  4. “Apple may need to play better with others”

    Is this really news? Same old story, different day. AppleTV sucks and Windows Home Server rules. End of story.

    More importantly, did Britney make it to court today?

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  5. REALTORben,

    Sorry, but you lost me when you said you’d rather pay Apple $4.99 for what used to cost $1.99.

    If Jobs let pricing control go for NBC, it’d all go to hell in a handbasket instantly.

  6. Apple is somewhat flexible; however, Apple has a very distinct vision of where it wants to go and what the consumer market is. Apple has earned a reputation for not working with third parties, and most often, Apple has been proven correct – Mac OS X, iPod, iTunes and one price songs, the iPhone model (which is attempting to be copied by phone manufacturers now), etc.

    Where Apple will show its flexibility is in the world of video content delivery. This is an area where multiple tiered pricing has virtually always existed, and new products are now available to muddy those waters (buying single tv shows, music videos, etc.). What remains to be seen is how well Apple can convince the content providers that it’s vision is what consumers want. As we have seen time and time again, these huge studios (music or movies) are not always very flexible or willing to listen to new ideas.

    Hence we see remake after remake, sequel after sequel, teeny bop band after identical teeny bop band.

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