TV will be Apple’s undoing; to maintain its leadership, the company must cede control

“The map mess demonstrates why circumstances are turning against Apple’s current business model,” Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. opines for The Wall Street Journal. “Simply, content is king again. However much it might benefit Apple’s business model to force users to patronize its own maps app, the company won’t get far in trying to deny them Google’s far superior app. Apple for a while managed to tame the power of content and make it subservient, but that day is coming to an end.”

“Forget the maps farrago. Look at Apple’s agony over the TV puzzle. Apple is frustrated because there is no solution to TV that will let Apple keep doing what it has been doing,” Jenkins writes. “Apple’s fans imagine the company can do for TV what it did for music: breaking up the existing distribution model. Forget about it. Television is about to demonstrate the inadequacy of Apple’s own business model.”

Jenkins writes, “To maintain its position, the company will have to focus more on giving its devices superb access to content it doesn’t control and hasn’t approved. Can Apple CEO Tim Cook and company make the turn?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s an arena where the Tim Cook’s pragmatism may work better for Apple than would have Steve Jobs’ hard-nosed, take-it-or-leave-it negotiation style.

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


  1. Maintaining control of TV will be Apple’s undoing.

    Yep. And Apple needs to license the Mac OS, or that will be its undoing.
    And Apple needs to put a slide-out keyboard on those iPhones, or that will be its undoing.
    And Apple needs to get a low-priced NetBook out there immediately, or that will be its undoing.
    And Apple needs to listen to the customer and not eliminate the floppy drive from the Mac line, or that will be its undoing.
    And Apple needs to …


    1. Maps is one of 700,000 apps. Albeit an important app, it still has little to effect apples stellar success. It’s a tradition for critics to pick a mole holland create a mountain with apples releases.

    2. I agree, this won’t be their undoing. In fact quite the opposite. Over time it will be the content providers undoing. Little by little new players will appear, produce their own content and market it directly for Apple TV.

      Today many authors only publish for iPad. Eventually smaller studios will appear and take advantage of the Apple TV goldmine. Apple just needs to make it easy for someone to create their own “channel” on AppleTV. We should have a “Channel Store” and all of a sudden, the old players are dead!

        1. Well said. Exactly. The App is the channel. All we need is for Apple to allow us to start writing our own Channel Apps and the Cable industry is finished.

          Apple has to loosen up and stop keeping Apple TV so closed. I think Channel Apps (like Hulu and Netflix) are not real competitors to iTunes, they compliment iTunes and Apple TV, and if Apple lets go and lets us all play in their game, we will see some truly innovative stuff.

          I believe in this case, it is Apple that is holding back innovation.

        2. I’m having a hard time figuring out what I’d do with a Channel Store. Right now, when we sit down to watch TV we seldom know what we want to watch. We scan the channels starting with our favorites and then go on to the less interesting channels, sometimes winding up watching the least objectionable thing that’s on. How do I do that if I have to pay for each specific channel? I certainly wouldn’t pay for a rerun of Storage Wars but I may watch it again if Brandi was wearing something interesting.

      1. Hmmm. An interesting angle – and one that is entirely credible considering what Apple did to the music marketing industry.

        But I’ve also felt for a long time now that Apple needs to start producing and owning content simply because that’s its Achilles Heel. As long as you don’t own the cotent that makes all your devices hum, you’re always liable to be cut down at some point.

        Apple has huge amounts of cash lying around, enough to go into all kinds of content production – movies, TV, music – in a big way, and guaranteeing that lack of content ownership will never lead to its demise.

        Still, maybe Apple sees what you see – a future where DIY content may make the big production studios go the way of the big music labels.

  2. Ah yes. Another “Apple should do this. Appe must do that.” punditry puff piece. If Mr. Frickin’ Know-It-All is so smart, why is he not running Apple?

    As long as the company as been around, it’s been low-hanging fruit (pun intended) for anyone with a fat ego and a propensity for opinions. The thing is that I’d App,e were to follow the pundits, it would have failed years ago.

    In a world that has become an echo chamber of misguided bloggers, so quick is the rush to judge, so immediate are the expectations that everything will be perfect at the moment of introduction that we rarely take time to think through the latest bombastic salvo of yet another click-whoring headline. But cooler heads filter out the noise, as I will with this one.

    Crap like this makes my head hurt.

    1. Well I’m with you on the over enthusiastic bloggers. Of course that cuts both ways. Those who think Apple can do no wrong and those who think Apple will do everything wrong. But let’s face it, there really aren’t too many out there that think that Apple will do even many things wrong. Are there? So in reality there are many more gushing fanboys then there are detractors. I believe this writer makes some good points as far as Apple having a difficult time but I believe that Apple can climb the mountain if they have enough time. Objectivity is something seldom seen on this site. I like MDN’s observation. I would certainly like to get rid of my cable.

  3. Yeah, that guy is so clever this is sooo… different from when Apple started the itunes music store because they owned all the content.


    Yet another bafoon ignoring reality

  4. Clearly the western style of thinking allows only bipolar possibilities: You’re either left-handed or you’re right-handed, you’re either extroverted or introverted, you’re either right or you’re wrong. Circa 1996, Apple either needed to be a software company (and license the OS to HW manufacturers ala Microsoft) or it needed to be a hardware company and license Windows. Steve Jobs studied eastern philosophy and learned that there are alternatives — and clearly he was right. So now we’re told that Apple must cede its total control or it will be undone. Well, since you’re either right or you’re wrong, I say the author is wrong 😉

  5. So that guy has experience in running a multi billion dollar company/worlds most valuable company. What is his track record that validates his suggestions that Apple management will wake up and say…holy crap we gotta do what this guy tells us!!!

  6. How the hell does the map issue (a contractual problem between Apple and google) suggest Apple’s business model is in jeopardy?

    I would say that the only part of Apple’s business model that is in jeopardy is that of doing business with companies that are now determined to be Apple’s competitor, i.e. google and Samsung. I believe that this “model” is going to be changed by Apple’s management, and it will hurt it’s former partners a hell of a lot more in the long run than it will Apple.

    1. Actually, it’s worth a lot more than 120B. Comcast alone has a market cap of about 95B.

      If Apple were smart, they’d start creating their OWN content (like HBO started doing 25 years ago, and Netflix and DirecTV are doing now), and get their feet wet.

      Imagine how cool it would be to sign a deal for exclusive iTunes-only shows from Joss Wheadon, J. J. Abrams, David Chase, etc. It’d be proof — one way or anothe — if a la carte television is REALLY viable or not.

      Would 1 million fans pay $1.99 for each episode of a new season of, say, Firefly or Dollhouse? I know I would…

  7. Amazing that the writer knows so much more than Apple does from its teams living inside the iOS ecosystem, many of whom have experience outside Apple’s walls in the relevant industries.

  8. What is he talking about? Apple has steadily been building up the Apple TV and sales have increased heavily since the introduction of the Apple TV 3. Apple has the same problem as the rest of the companies out there. The problem is getting content to be allowed on the Apple TV. The networks, cable companies, movie and TV industries don’t want to share or allow content. Or they want a ridiculous amount for licensing that no one could afford. Then they want full control of the distribution of there content which Apple can’t deal with because Apple wants to use the Apple TV. That’s what the whole industry is dealing with, not just Apple. At least Apple is trying to license content and not just go out and build a box and claim you can get content like Google did and was immediately blocked. Sure they got a box out first, but it didn’t matter because it was just an expensive box that couldn’t play anything.

  9. This assumes that Apple is actually, really doing something beyond the Apple TV.. I think that considering the media companies Apple would have to work with and license from, to do anything in the space that would make people go wow, would be more trouble than its worth.

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