Apple could own the living room if they licensed iTunes for non-Apple devices

Apple Online Store“While there are a lot of video based hardware devices in the market all competing for the living room, today, none of them have the three essential components needed to be declared the winner,” Dan Rayburn writes for Streamingmedia.

Advertisement: The new AppleTV. The simplest way to watch your favorite HD movies and TV shows on your HD TV. Just $99. Buy Now.

“Because Apple wants to control not only the iTunes software but also the hardware, Apple is preventing themselves from ever controlling the living room,” Rayburn writes. “We know the hardware is becoming less important. Roku’s box is cheaper than Apple TV and offers support for USB and 1080p. So this is not about Apple having better hardware with Apple TV because they don’t. It’s about who has the best content and the best platform to manage it.”

“Apple is setting themselves up for failure in the living room all due to the fact that they feel they have to control everything in the video ecosystem. But just imagine if Apple cared less about the hardware and was more open with their iTunes platform. If Apple licensed iTunes to every TV and Blu-ray manufacturer and these devices all shipped with iTunes built in, Apple would immediately have the largest install base of anyone overnight,” Rayburn writes. “iTunes would become the dominant platform in the living room and could go uncontested if Apple added browser functionality to iTunes.”

“I like Apple devices, I’ve only used a Mac my whole life. But Apple makes some really dumb mistakes in the market at times simply due to their ego and this is one of those occasions,” Rayburn writes. “If Apple opened up iTunes to non-Apple devices, they would be dominating the market. And if they did that, and had the kind of device footprint Netflix will have by the end of this year, it would be a lot easier for Apple to get the studios to agree to allow them to add new business models like monthly subscriptions for video.”

Rayburn writes, “The competition to get consumers attention in the living room is wide open and with Google TV, Boxee and others all gearing up to launch their offerings, Apple’s iTunes platform and Apple TV device are only going to fall further behind in the race to control the connected living room.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We highly doubt there’s an angle, especially one as obvious as this, that Steve Jobs hasn’t considered. If you want to question the strategy one of the greatest businessmen in history, go for it.

Just remember that market share is meaningless without healthy margins (i.e. revenue share). Dell and Nokia can tell you all about it.

In this case, we’re quite content to wait to see the rest of Jobs’ plan unfold (although we do wish he’d can the “hobby” talk as it just serves to create hesitation and inhibit sales). Meanwhile, Apple, hurry up and ship our Apple TVs already! Please?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Robert S.” for the heads up.]


  1. All the tech press bitches about iTunes 720p vs 1080i/p, but the simple fact is most people sitting in their living rooms with their low-end to mid-line sets couldn’t tell the difference.
    I think Apple went with 720 because of file size and streaming bandwidth needs for the 1080 formats. Besides- NBC, ABC & Fox broadcast in 720p all the time. Only CBS & PBS broadcast regularly in 1080i and nobody is broadcasting in 1080p.
    Not opinion-fact.

  2. It isn’t Apple’s perceived arrogance, rather it’s their drive to ensure that the user is presented with the same interface & functionality that keeps Apple from licensing iTunes. The remotes will be too complex or the interface to link to iTunes will be different among manufacturers & even between models

    Apple experimented with licensing the Mac OS to 3rd party hardware makers. The results were unimpressive. The clones were less fine-tuned than Apple wanted, they had to certify that the software worked with the non-Apple hardware & then there’s the issue of customer service. Owning a Mac means that if you experience an issue with your computer you call Apple & they can diagnose whether the issue is hardware or software. Since they make both, the provide you with the resolution. Whereas, with a windows pc, you have to determine whether the issue is hardware or software & hope that you contact the right vendor. In many cases, both vendors may claim it’s the other’s issue & you’re left having to referee the conflict

    So, there is reason for Apple to prefer making the hardware & software

    Cheers !

  3. @Sandman619:

    Actually, my Power Computing Mac clone was faster than the genuine Apple boxes that were available at the time, and cheaper, too. It worked so well that I never had to bother anyone — Apple nor Power Computing — for customer service.

    The results were too impressive, and that’s why Apple discontinued the licensing program.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.