Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘The future of television is apps’

“The newest Apple TV, which the company unveiled (Sept. 9)… adds an app store, so anyone can now build an app and potentially reach millions of people in their living rooms,” Dan Frommer writes for Quartz. “Apple thinks this will dramatically change how people watch television at home. ‘We believe the future of television is apps,’ Apple CEO Tim Cook proclaimed.”

“Perhaps that’s true. But don’t expect a living-room app store to lead to some great, rapid democratization of content, or an indie-video renaissance,” Frommer writes. “What you watch probably won’t change much. And, bigger-picture, this feels like a “plan b” move on Apple’s behalf. While a bunch of apps and the ability to search across them could eventually piece together Hollywood’s TV shows and movies… it’s hardly the most elegant solution to an admittedly complex problem.”

“Meanwhile, new forms of video content have had more than a decade to erupt on the web. And while some interesting new categories have emerged—such as watching people play video games—the heavy majority of streaming bandwidth is still going to Netflix, which is as mainstream Hollywood as it gets,” Frommer writes. “It’s hard to see Apple TV changing this dramatically… What’s more likely, if ‘apps as channels’ takes off, is a shuffling of business models… Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft thinks new entrants, ‘particularly Apple,’ could even grow the number of pay TV subscribers. And new streaming providers won’t offer physical DVRs, ‘which means advertising will be protected during time-shifted viewing.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If Apple can entice Apple TV users with free samples of compelling content (trailers), especially for TV series, they certainly can grow the number of pay TV subscribers. We await the details and launch of Apple’s skinny bundle(s) with bated breath.

Content producers should get to work then on producing their own apps… We’ll make a folder of them on our iOS devices and it’ll look and act just like the channel lineup…MacDailyNews Take, April 11, 2011


  1. I think there is a “zero-sum” issue here… If I spend an additional 60-90 minutes on apps in the living room that is 60-90 minutes less I have to spend watching legacy TV or Hollywood movies.

    Maybe I’ll read the newspaper or chat or browse the Internet (we need a good web browser app with big fonts designed of the AppleTV…)

  2. People have yet to envision just how cool this can be. I can foresee real-time interaction with some shows, perhaps even where outcomes are decided based on audience input. Kids shows can integrate math, problem-solving, deductive reasoning, practically anything, even team-driven competitions into their content. Adults can participate in sleuthing and whatever other shenanigans adults enjoy on the boob-tube. TV as an mostly passive pursuit is going bye-bye.

    1. In a lot of areas, people are lagging behind the glorious future. Proper motivation is needed. Do you have any ideas?

      You might want to check out what others have thought of this interactive TV future. Check out Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

  3. I have apps in my Mac Book Pro.
    I have apps in my iPad.
    I have apps in my iPhone.
    I have zero interest for apps on a TV. I want content, programming, and the ability to watch what I want when I want to do it. I do not want to have another device that does what my Mac Book, iPad, and iPhone can already do. No thanks, Tim.

    1. Trust me there will be an app for you. It will be called the scrollr: automatic channel scrolling using your voice and when you like a channel, you order Siri to stop there. When the fun is gone, ask Siri to start scrolling again. Plus, you will be able to tell Siri to scroll faster or slower…

      Nevertheless, it is already happening. Stick to cable bro.

      1. Wrong. Audiences don’t move to solutions that give them no perceived utility. Some people still use rabbit ears on their TVs, bro.

        Doesn’t it just irritate you to death when you promote the glorious future and your comrades just won’t get in line? It’s enough to make you want to hurt them or kill them, isn’t it?

        Funny how Apple used to attract courageous creators (1984 commercial). Now, all they attract are boring pedants mandating choices for everyone on trivial topics, like watching TV.

        Spare me your technological bigotry. I’m more than capable of choosing for myself.

        1. TV audiences have already started moving away from sitting in front of TV and scrolling through the channels.

          Most Americans get their TV content from devices other than TV. Until TV changes the way it presents content (linear, real-time), they aren’t coming back to it.

          Apple TV gives those people what they want. Content they want, when they want it, from the source that has it.

  4. Apple hasn’t fundamentally changed much with the new AppleTV. Anyone who wanted an “app” on the last generation seemed to have one. I can’t see Amazon making an app unless they decide it will increase Prime subscriptions but would Apple allow it?

    We won’t know Apple’s endgame for another year when more cable companies follow HBO and Showtime and allow subscriptions off carrier. Ultimately that’s what Apple wants so they can get their 30% on monthly subscriptions.

    1. …”I can’t see Amazon making an app “…

      Amazon has had their Amazon Instant Video app for iOS for a few years now (and it is free, of course). I’m pretty sure they will have their app ready for Apple TV before Apple TV even goes on sale. After all, they went through the effort of having it developed for X-Box, PlayStation, Wii, Roku, ChromeCast, not to mention TV sets from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Vizio…

      The fundamental difference between the old and the new Apple TV is that the software on the old one was all done by Apple, using APIs and help from content providers (HBO Go, NetFlix, etc). The new Apple TV allows everyone to develop their own apps. Those who have already done that for iOS will find it effortless to port their code to Apple TV. Apple engineers seem to imply that an average content streaming app could be ported in an afternoon. For games, it would take much longer, but Netflix, Hulu, Showtime Anytime, Amazon Video and all others will likely be ready well before the device goes on sale.

      1. Agree about the Amazon app, but why didn’t they develop it for the AppleTV? Or maybe more precisely, why didn’t Apple allow it on the AppleTV? I can only assume it was because Apple viewed it as a direct competitor to their movies, music, and television show sales and weren’t going to invite a direct competitor onto their platform.

        My understanding of the Amazon Video app is that you can only stream from Prime or from videos you have purchased on Amazon. You can not purchase directly on the device because, if you did, Amazon would be losing 30% to Apple and they’re not going to do that. Any app on the AppleTV would likely have the same limitation.

        I agree about the app creation. The question the article addressed was how this AppleTV would change how people watch TV which is what I was addressing. From that level, who is making the app makes little difference if the basic functionality is the same. That is why I don’t think we’ll really know until Apple does/does not reveal their partnerships with networks.

  5. And another swing and a miss.

    TV (99% of the time) is a passive activity, Tim. People zone out while watching TV. That’s how they enjoy their off hours. They don’t want to participate. They don’t want to interact. They want to veg. I’m not saying that this is right or wrong, but it is how people enjoy TV. Forcing people to fiddle with apps when all they want to do is eat Cheetoes, drink beer, and flip a channel, is not going to work.

    Strange how unempowering Apple TV is.

    1. You make a good point. TV watching is a communal experience (i.e. Super Bowl with friends, NCAA games with alums, films for adults or kids, TV shows for mom and dad or the kids,…). Wonder how Tim Cook failed to understand this.

      1. Both of you are wrong.

        Today, more people watch TV content on devices other than TV. And even fewer watch “live TV” (i.e. broadcast/cable channel programme as scheduled). Broadcast and cable TV industry is scrambling to figure out how to adjust their business model; their shrinking audience no longer watches live programming (interrupted by commercials); they watch on-demand, or at least time-shifted content on DVR (where skipping commercials is just the matter of pressing a button).

        My father watched live TV sitting in front of it in the living room. My generation is increasingly watching TV content on desktop or iPad. My children’s generation barely cares to watch entertainment on the actual TV screen, and practically NEVER watches any real-time programming.

        Apple TV, with third-party development and apps, will be the most profound, disruptive device in the current TV space. It will take over the gaming console market, and once people get it for games, they will end up using it for everything else. Those who had Chromecast, Fire, Roku and others will simply forget they even had them. By the end of 2016, I am pretty certain Apple TV will be the dominant set top box in America, and the most powerful catalyst for cord-cutting.

        1. “Most Americans get their TV content from devices other than TV. ”
          “Today, more people watch TV content on devices other than TV.”

          I doubt it. Not anyone I know – of any age group.
          Where do you get this from?

          Who the heck wants to watch a movie or their favorite series on an iPad instead of a 50″ HD screen?

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