Apple’s dilemma with Apple TV

“Let there be no question, Apple had better be developing a marketing roadmap to promote Apple TV,” Mark Reschke writes for TGAAP. “Beyond Gene Munster’s near obsession with the mythical Apple TV + HDTV combo idea, Apple needs to start implanting the currently shipping Apple TV into the consciousness of would-be buyers’ minds now, or risk losing the content-streaming-war to more aggressive rivals.”

“A recent report reveals Apple slipping in the streaming market. Parks Associates research shows that in less than one year Google’s $35 USD Chromecast TV dongle moved up into second place, pushing Apple TV down a spot to third,” Reschke writes. “The streaming content competition for Apple TV has arrived in full force.”

“Apple’s marketing of the device has been all but invisible since original launch in 2007. Since its release, Apple has not delivered a single television commercial for the device,” Reschke writes. “Meanwhile, Google has been actively advertising Chromecast during many college and pro football and basketball games. Google has driven Chromecast into the consciousness of the consumer, making it the top-of-mind device when considering a streaming solution for the living room. Unfortunately, Apple has sat idly by, watching Google rapidly stealing away Apple TV’s, and even Roku’s, marketshare.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related article:
Google Chromecast now beating hobbyist Apple in the TV streaming market – December 3, 2014


  1. Apple’s making no big effort to sell something that is still number three… AND one of the more expensive of all the options.

    I wish I had the same “dilemma”.

    1. Even if they had the most popular TV set on the market, it still wouldn’t hold a candle to iPhone. What the fans need to realize, something Apple showed in a huge bar graph ages ago, is that the TV industry and the Video Game industries are just NOT THAT BIG. It doesn’t move the needle, hence Apple insists on pushing a narrow minded design. They have all the time in the world.

      1. Unfortunately, I don’t think AppleTV is languishing because it’s ‘profitable enough as is’ OR because the market isn’t big enough to justify a bigger push – when the video game industry alone is bigger than Hollywood, I can’t see ‘lack of financial opportunity’ as a major issue. Especially since Apple’s hardware, software, & iTS offerings are already at the point where it would be trivial for them to more or less take the space over.

        I see two issues holding Apple back – one longstanding & often talked about, the other maybe just as longstanding but never mentioned.

        First, Apple (under Cook, and perhaps Jobs as well) has seen favorable content deals – to both them and consumers – with studios as the major factor in putting out an AppleTV they believed in. It was/is a miscalculation, in that the iPod/iTunes/iTS success was seen as mostly stemming from favorable music content deals (.99c songs, pretty lax DRM, etc…). As the music industry quickly lost power to Apple, just as it should have due to the natural effect of ever-advancing technology, most of the rest of the content players in video saw and learned what not to do if they wanted to maintain their preeminence. Don’t do content deals with Apple. The deals that have been done are a] with companies Apple has ties with (Disney), and b] aren’t anything revolutionary enough to upend the video industry. Apple needs leverage for that, the same kind of leverage they had with iPod/iTunes, but have completely discounted with video today: They gave consumers legal means to digitize and transport their legally obtained (and pre-existing) music collections. With that, even if the music industry had wanted to shut Apple out from their libraries, Apple’s technology was already in a position to do and end run around them & make them irrelevant, as Napster & the like almost already had before Apple got involved. Apple needs to do the same now, with DVR technology and legal DVD ripping – recreate the iPod/iTunes paradigm in video, so that the same ‘deal with us or die’ leverage can be brought to bear & content deals Apple favors will be made. Apple has preferred to play this from the inside, as if they are part of the industry, as opposed from the outside as a disruptive force, and it has cost them. Time will tell if their is a realization inside Apple on this.

        The above has already been talked about though. The second factor is less appreciated. Notice, our current ‘Smart TVs’ are essentially corporate (and by extension government) spies in the home. With built in cameras & always net connected hardware (and use agreements that essentially tell you ‘Ur F*sked’), it is now clear that Apple would have to do some major technological juju in order to a] keep your information private and/or anonymous, and b] out of the hands of the very corporations that they are trying to do content deals with (which are probably making access to such information contingent on such deals), as well as c] the government’s hands too.

        I think it is this second issue that is keep Apple frozen from moving forward on AppleTV, even more than the first now that Apple has publicly drawn its line in the sand on privacy. Remember too, it won’t be just American consumers who will be offered AppleTV – people in China (Hong Kong), Russia, Britain will be too, and all those governments have shown just as much interest as the USA in spying on it’s people. AppleTV would have to have security at least as robust as iOS on iPhone & iPad to convince people that Apple isn’t just blowing smoke about protecting them against all manor of intrusion (just think about all the things you absent-mindedly do in front of your TVs NOW, let alone when the full force of Apple’s expertise is brought to bear on them).

        Ironically, I think Apple could use the same technology in solving problem two as in solving problem one. That is to say, who needs an always on connected TV? Why not just make a TV (or TV box) that records & rips & plays all sorts of iOS games primarily, and the rest can be ‘opt in’ as the consumer desires? Apple can make the device more self-contained (Siri-like commands on board, instead of querying over the net) and make that a selling point, differentiating themselves from Google, Amazon & the rest by encrypting and anonymizing all outbound & inbound traffic/requests by default. Call it a DRM measure 😉

        Something has to give though. I know my purchase of AppleTV will be contingent on it’s not being an always on spy in my home (that’s why I pass on Nest too), as well as not making me the kind of ‘permanent renter’ that the content corporations are drooling for. I don’t want my extensive video library to be obsoleted either – my upscaling player is going nowhere until someone comes up with a way for me to easily and legally keep what I’ve already purchased at no additional cost … just like iTunes did with my CDs all those years ago.

  2. “Since its release, Apple has not delivered a single television commercial for the device,” Reschke writes.

    Actually, I recall an Apple TV ad on television in 2007 during the initial launch. It showed how the Apple TV was like a big iPod for your living room.

    Since then though? Yes, crickets..

    1. You guys don’t get it. Ads aren’t used to launch and sell products, they are used to _maintain_ awareness for already popular products. If Apple wanted to push the AppleTV, they could just instruct sales teams in Apple Stores to do so. They’re not doing that. iPhone, iPad and MacBook are top priorities. AppleTV (and related software updates) serve to promote those three brands (for example, the screen sharing AirPlay tech).

  3. Apple has much, much bigger plans for TV than simply being a wireless bridge. Either the hardware isn’t ready in a cost-effective basis, or the software and content deals aren’t ready for a new product like Watch. When TV is re-invented, it will be something dramatically different, something we haven’t thought of before.

    1. They better have and soon or it might be too late. They have sat on their asses for years on this and got away with it and now on their third attempt Google is eating their lunch while Apples version of Nero twanged away on their harp strings. Now those good enough cheap sticks just might become too entrenched for Apples ‘big idea’ to take off should it ever actually arrive. If nothing else like with iPhone twiddling away for far too long missing opportunities makes it far more difficult and expensive to win back what you have lost no matter how successful it ultimately becomes. And as I say that success isn’t inevitable. Now others have introduced first what rumours have suggested Apple would do for Apple TV for about the last 2 years, voice control and an App Store for starters.

      1. Well Apple won back the small tablet and large phone markets after letting Android completely take over those, so I am sure a major AppleTV upgrade will come out swinging.

        But why Apple leaves these doors open for the competition I don’t know.

        I want games, apps, room-wide FaceTime, Mac and iOS integration. Why have they not shipped those yet?

        I want a cross channel search and favorites system, why can’t they do that now?

        Once people spend 4 hours a day using AppleTV for reasons other than just streaming television the channels will suddenly see the light and license their content to get the viewer time back.

    2. AppleTV in its current form (or as a… tee hee.. Games Console) is a boring proposition. Families sitting around a big screen watching a movie together is not as popular as it once was.

      As the center of the connected home, however, it does start to make sense. #Homekit #Continuity

  4. I just purchased Amazon’s FireTV stick for no other reasons than it was $20 for a couple of days for Prime members and so I could watch the movies and TV shows included with my membership without having to use Airplay from my Macs and iDevices. If only there were on app on my Apple TV for this. Remember when Netfilx wasn’t on Apple TV? I would gladly get rid of the Amazon stick if AppleTV gets this capability.

    1. I just did the same thing and I’m all apple all the time. If Apple wanted my business in the television market they could have it if they updated the apple tv and opened it up to more apps. But for now I’m replacing my 2nd gen apple tv with the fire tv stick.

      1. The fire TV with xbmc makes the Apple TV irrelevant. When I can have all the TV and movies I want what do I need with apples paid subs prion model? I have an AirPlay app on the fire TV I use.
        I like the stick but the fire TV has Ethernet and I prefer that for streaming full hd. Apple TV 2 did pave the way for all the boxes out there like fire TV and minx And so on.

  5. If your house or office has an Apple ecosystem, Apple TV is the best $99 you can spend. Besides the ability to rent movies from iTunes and access other content on iTunes, Apple TV allows you to throw anything you are doing on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone onto a big screen TV.

    When I laying on my couch cruising the net on my iPad, I will often come across a video clip that I can instantly put on my 42″ TV with Airplay.

    At the office, we use Apple TV in our conference room to display plans, maps, and pics for projects we are involved in.

    So yes, Chromecast and FireTV are cheaper than Apple TV, just like Android phones are cheaper than iPhones, bicycles are cheaper than cars, and catfood is cheaper than steak.

    1. There is an AirPlay mirror app for the fire TV I use. I found it for free and got it. Normally it’s like $3.
      Haha what do I want with iTunes? I do not want to pay apple $3 a show. I can get it all free using xbmc. Plus the Apple TV interface seriously needs updating. I’m apple all the way iPhone 6plus iPad iPad mini iMac MacBook Air but sorry the fire TV has games, tons of TV apps, xbmc, plus tons of free movies and shows in prime. And now prime music and unlimited cloud storage of my photos.
      And voice search is awesome.

      Nothing in iTunes is free and the Apple TV lacks apps seriously

  6. I bought an Apple TV reluctantly. It only ever gets used to mirror content off my iPad. My Roku meanwhile gets used all the time as a full on media server. Apple’s product doesn’t come anywhere near it.

    Chromecast is junk BTW. Roku can do everything a Chromecast can, but also has onboard apps so you don’t need a tablet or phone for it to work properly.

  7. Yes he is absolutely right. They had the upper hand when it was a “hobby” and it all slipped away when they said it is not anymore. What is wrong with this picture? If you put a A7 in it, 802.11ac wifi and open it up to apps the processor alone will leap frog over the competition being the first 64 bit streamer. And with Metal to create game. My God.

    1. Tim Cook has since made it known that they are EXTREMELY INTERESTED in this hobby, and that hearts are beating and pulses are racing, etc… “the juices are flowing”..

      Still have no idea what he was talk– oh yeah Apple Watch.

  8. Why not pick up a Mac Mini for $500 and be done with it. You can watch and download anything that’s on the web; even Popcorn Time! You have a fully function computer with bluetooth keyboard and trackpad.

    You can’t do that on any of the other units.

    1. Part of the appeal of TV is that it’s much easier and simpler to use than a full computer.

      A Mac Mini connected to a TV is a hot setup, no doubt, but it’s too complicated for most people’s living room. A compelling TV product should be able to compete with channel surfing in ease of use and mindless simplicity.

    2. Popcorn time is ok but yea I side loaded it to the fire TV. Sorry but $500 compared to $100 or even $84 allot on sale is s huge diff. Sure Mac mini is great but seriously the fire TV works great and I can buy 5 for $500. And my kids love the voice search and how fast Amazon content streams.

  9. Just because someone says you have a problem doesn’t necessarily make it so. The Chromecast costs $35, the AppleTV costs $99; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why more people are buying the Chromecast.

    All the while the more pertinent question goes unasked, which is that despite minimal promotion by Apple—if even that—AppleTV have managed to land in third place.

    This is on top of being more costly than the competition in many instances, which is telling

  10. Apple is definitely up to something in the display market. The fact that they did NOT release a 27″ 5K Thunderbolt Display alongside the iMac tells me a new display may actually double as a modern replacement of the television technology that could instead be released alongside other larger 5K displays.

  11. Apple TV just isn’t a very remarkable product. Apple knows this, and that’s why they call it a “hobby.”

    Other devices do basically the same thing and cost less. The only thing that actually sets Apple TV apart is how well it integrates with iOS devices: which when you think about that, that really makes Apple TV an accessory for a compelling product rather than a compelling product in its own right.

    The answer to this “problem” isn’t to throw more money at advertising Apple TV – trying to trick people into thinking this hobby is more remarkable than it really is – that’s just dumb. Apple should either (1) change Apple TV into a more remarkable product – maybe by adding gaming, a unique video subscription service, third party apps, 3d hardware, or something better, then advertise this new compelling product – or (2) keep Apple TV right where it is, in its small-but-profitable niche, enhancing the iOS ecosystem, and not waste money over-marketing it.

    The most effective advertisements for selling Apple TV’s anyway is probably the iPhone and iPad they already run. The more people who buy into the iOS ecosystem, the more people there will be wanting Apple TV’s and other iOS accessories.

  12. Do anyone seriously think that anyone at Apple is losing any sleep because Google is selling more $35 gizmos than Apple’s $100 gizmo? Sheesh.

    “iTunes users are now renting and purchasing over 400,000 TV episodes and over 150,000 movies per day.”

    And that was back in 2010. When Apple had just sold 1 million units of the latest version of AppleTV.

  13. Not to mention that since ios8 came out, the app remote on ipad and iPhone rarely if ever works on Apple TV anymore, just look at all the reviews in the App Store. Apple doesn’t even care enough to make their own app remote for Apple TV… Work with Apple TV! They must have the same big wigs who led the iTunes Radio development on the Apple TV development…never looking at what the competition is doing and assume everyone will buy it because it says apple, then slip into last place, still get your fat pay checks while the product continues to slip away and fail, then buy another company to cover up your ignorance and failure (Beats). Apple TV just keeps getting further and further behind, year after year after year. I for one am getting sick of waiting for an updated Apple TV and am looking at the competition as I don’t want to buy another streamer with multi year old out dated hardware. Keep up the good work apple!

  14. I’ve been a die hard Apple evangelist since 1985.

    I saw the Surface commercial the other day and got a chill up my spin. After years of companies ripping off Apple, the Surface ad obvious ripoff had a new impact. Why don’t our notebooks have touch screen? Why don’t iPads function as computer-esque devices that you can disassemble and take the screen/tablet part away and light up your house?

    The point being that it dawned on me that MS seemed to be taking the brilliant innovations from Apple and taking them further than Apple to the point that I wondered, hey why doesn’t my MacBook Pro have a touch screen? After all, I reach for it al,ost daily as I lose the separation between iPad and computer screen. Yet Apple hasn’t connected this dot while it’s competitors have.

    It’s like MS and others are now lying in wait for Apple to innovate and then steal and take further. Scary.

    1. I personally find the Surface vs MacBook Air ads embarrassing… for Microsoft! Taking one look at the comparison shot, I know what I want: The AIR!

      For a couple years now, the PC user group (Yes! PC!) where I help out has been considering the point of a touch screen on a laptop. No one there (that I know of) sees the point.

      Then there’s the infamous ‘Gorilla Arm’ effect of reaching up from the keyboard to touch and drag stuff on the screen. Why bother? Apple has the most incredible touch pad going. I love the things! I have both a Magic Trackpad (to use on my Mac Mini server) and the excellent MacBook Pro trackpad. I want to skip the trackpad and touch the screen because WHY?

      But I know full well there are uses for some folks for touching the laptop screen. It’s not totally daft. Me Mum most certainly loves using both her purchased keyboard AND her touch screen on her iPad 4.

  15. Apple is dropping the ball here by continuing to call this (and treat it like a) hobby.

    I only know one person with the Chromecast, and he has an Apple TV. He was extremely happy when he bought his Chromecast…. and now continues to mostly use his Apple TV.

    Apple TV is great, for what it is, but needs an overhaul in the UI and needs USB ports to become a gaming system. Ok, the latter is more of an opinion, but I think that would help it out immensely. Give it USB ports for controllers and open the App store on it.

    All that said, I have two Apple TVs (a 2 and a 3) and I love them. All my stuff is on a NAS and my older MBP is constantly running iTunes and serving that stuff to all my devices.

    On a slightly separate note, the NAS has a cloud option (it’s not actually cloud storage) and, when online (which it typically is), I can watch my stuff from anywhere. This translates into pulling stuff from my NAS at a friend’s house and pushing it to their Apple TV.

    1. It’s not a hobby because Apple doesn’t have enough Engineers (or Lawyers). It’s a hobby because the market for selling TV shows and movies in the age of BitTorrent is incredibly tiny. What Apple is doing is trying to combine the TV/Movie/Media market with something else to make it financially significant.

      Until then they are much happier selling you a 500-$1000 device on which to consume any media you wish than selling you a $99 device that does a few things not that well.

      If you want to know the way forward for Apple, follow the money: Real Estate, HMOs, Auto, Financial Services. We’re looking for big markets here. Big Markets move the stock.

  16. If you want to know what Apple is going to do with the television market look at Apple Pay. They didn’t just introduce the functionality, they introduced an ecosystem of how to pay.

    Part of the challenge is that TV is a moving target. The majority of screen content is now consumed on handheld devices, not big television screens. But even that is a mess requiring different apps, buffering videos, buggy ads that mess up the flow, lack of good video controls and inconsistent content.

    Apple needs to find a way to make getting content anywhere a consistent, enjoyable experience that just makes sense. And they have to fight against billion dollar interests for the status quo.

    Androids had NFC for several years and within one month, Apple Pay took over. I would expect the same when they are ready to address the television market.

  17. I had 3 Apple TV’s for years, then ditched them all for a couple of Roku’s almost two years ago. I’ve never looked back. The Roku has so much more content than an ATV, there is just no comparison. The ATV has less than 50 channels, the Roku has thousands, and partners with MANY other tech companies. For example, there is a “DS Video” channel which allows me to stream media directly from my Synology NAS, which is far superior to iTunes, which I ditched about the same time I ditched the ATV. In fact, the only Apple devices I have left in my house are two iMacs, and my Macbook Pro Retina. I’ll never give up my Macs! But all of our mobile devices are now Android. They’re so much less expensive than Apple’s phones and tablets, and much more flexible. I can’t see making Apple rich at my expense.

    But getting back to the ATV, the Roku is simply better, by far.

  18. The one thing that would make the Apple TV more appetizing to users of other set-top boxes, more specifically Roku users, is an App/Channel store. The current assortment of channels is nice, but a much greater selection would be better. Admittedly, most of the Roku channels are useless, but a lot of them are nice to have. Also, it would be great if the iOS Remote app allowed audio to be streamed from the Apple TV to an iOS device that has headphones plugged in, much like how newer Roku remotes have headphone jacks built-in. Sure, it’s copycatting, but they’re two great things that would be even greater to have on the Apple TV.

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