Apple vowed to revolutionize television; currently prepping an unremarkable 4K Apple TV instead

“Earlier this month, Apple Inc. poached the chief of Amazon’s Fire TV unit to run its television operations. Timothy D. Twerdhal brings hardware and content experience to his new gig, and his hiring suggests a renewed focus on the Apple TV set-top box,” Mark Gurman reports for Blooomberg. “Twerdhal’s arrival comes as the company tests a new, fifth-generation Apple TV that it may release as soon as this year. Internally codenamed ‘J105,’ the new box will be capable of streaming ultra-high-definition 4K and more vivid colors, according to people familiar with the plans… Those enhancements alone probably aren’t enough to turn the gadget into a groundbreaking, iPhone-caliber product.”

“Early on, the Apple TV was going to replace the clunky set-top boxes from the cable companies and stream live television. It never happened,” Gurman reports. “Apple has essentially settled for turning the television set into a giant iPhone: a cluster of apps with a store. ‘That’s not what I signed up for,’ says one of the people, who requested anonymity to talk freely about internal company matters. ‘I signed up for revolutionary. We got evolutionary.’ Gene Munster, who covered Apple for more than a decade as a Piper Jaffray analyst and now runs Loup Ventures, echoes the criticism. ‘Apple TV begs the question: Why does Apple do hobbies?’ he says. ‘Either do it right or don’t do it at all.'”

“Apple had a backup plan if it wasn’t able to replace the existing cable box—the much-ballyhooed ‘skinny bundle,’ a stripped down web service that would let viewers choose channels rather than paying for ones they don’t watch,” Gurman reports. “But the two sides stumbled over cost, the composition of the bundles and negotiating tactics. The media companies blamed Apple’s arrogance; Apple blamed the media companies’ inflexibility. In the end, the talks fell apart…”

“Some engineers initially believed the current set-top box should be capable of streaming 4K video, which offers about twice the resolution as the previous generation of high-definition TV. But 4K requires a faster processor, which would have pushed up manufacturing costs,” Gurman reports. “That would have forced Apple to accept a lower margin or charge more than the market would bear. Apple settled for a lesser chip that debuted back in 2014—and no 4K.

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: All of which is just a small litany of we’ve been saying for many years now.

In fact, as we wrote just yesterday:

Beyond the pathetic inability to get content deals signed (while Google and others manage to do it), the #1 thing that Apple TV broadcasts to the world today is Apple’s embarrassing lack of vision.

Maybe now, with some new blood, we’ll finally see an end to baby steps, pulling the string, bad design, aimlessness, and the rest of the incompetence drowning Apple TV.

Amazon and Netflix 4K content looks amazing on our Sony 4K TVs. (There’s no Samsung-labeled crap here and there never will be.) A 4K-capable Apple TV would be most welcome. In fact, it would have been welcome last year, yet it’s inexplicably AWOL this year, too. In TV, Apple certainly doesn’t lead. — MacDailyNews, November 28, 2016

One more time: Which Apple VP is in charge of Apple TV among other chronically glitch-prone services that are uniformly saddled with Microsoftian UIs?

Therein Apple’s problem lies.

A jovial, fun-loving nature wrapped in unbuttoned shirts is no substitute for execution, quality, taste, and signed contracts, Tim.

Beloved by all, yet failing the company. It’s a conundrum that needs to be solved.MacDailyNews, November 3, 2016

Apple TV: Still not ready for prime time – February 15, 2017
Apple hires Amazon’s Fire TV head to run Apple TV business – February 8, 2017
Apple’s new TV app shows just how painfully behind Apple is – December 14, 2016
Are you ready for 4K TV? Apple TV isn’t. – November 28, 2016
Apple’s Eddy Cue: Nope, we don’t want to be Netflix – October 20, 2016
Google signs up CBS for planned web TV service to debut in early 2017; close to deal with 21st Century Fox – October 20, 2016
Apple’s Eddy Cue: Nope, we don’t want to be Netflix – October 20, 2016
Apple’s Eddy Cue alienated cable providers and networks with an assertive negotiating style – report – July 28, 2016
Here comes á la carte programming – without Apple – July 13, 2016
Apple TV 4 is a beta product and, if you bought one, you’re an unpaid beta tester – November 5, 2015


    1. If Apple’s next ATV with 4K doesn’t allow an easy upgrade of existing iTunes content purchased as HD for a small fee per movie, I’ll never buy from iTunes again. Will turn away from Apple for good on several product types. Hopefully they’ll do right by their customers. I used to be confident we could always expect that from Apple, but my confidence in them has waned considerably given all the recent missteps on product deliveries and cancellations.

  1. I don’t think it’s fair to hang this hat of “Apple vowed to change TV” on Apple. The light at the end of the tunnel came from a third party interviewing Steve Jobs while he was suffering. And Steve did think he “cracked” it, I.E.: found a solution. However with that said, that could be one of those “only with Steve,” things.

    I am certain there is a solution out there. Keep in mind, the media market if fully entrenched and no one is going to come in and solve the problem. TiVo and ReplayTV did more for us than anyone else. They made the biggest change. After them, online streaming, Hulu and Netflix. However this is not going to change over night and what I suggest as big changes only scratch the surface.

    This is an evolutionary market not revolutionary.

  2. Cook says it’s a hobby, so that’s what it is. I don’t buy cars from companies that say cars are their hobby project. I don’t buy food for my family from people who run a hobby grocery store. Are you in the effing business or not? Figure it out or GTFO and leave it to the people who are driving it.

  3. The lack of amazon (which has some of the best shows on TV) on the Apple TV is appalling. Other internet-TV boxes have amazon. Time for Apple to put their big-boy pants on and wor with amazon to make this happen.

    1. Apple doesn’t want to blink on this one. Netflix has been long present, as have other streaming services, and Apple didn’t have to make any concessions to them. They all agreed to the 30% rule and the app seems to be working fine for them.

      Amazon is demanding preferential treatment, which is something Jobs would never do — if he were alive today, he would likely send Bezos home with an expletive.

      Caving in to Amazon on this would seriously diminish Apple’s negotiating position elsewhere, where the stakes are much, much higher for Apple’s bottom line. Jobs declared AppleTV a hobby, Cook seems to continue to be treating it as one, and in the overall business strategy of Apple, the device doesn’t have an important place. Clearly not important enough for Apple to give in.

      Until next Steve Jobs comes to Apple to negotiate content deals, we will continue to have this problem. It is quite obvious to anyone that Jobs had the unique negotiating ability that others simply can’t match.

      1. At the rate Amazon is advancing, it may be Apple that asks concessions of Amazon. Not in the next 5yrs at least though. Apple still has a good lead. More equal footing right now on both sides on this front.

      1. Amazon’s loss – hardly.

        I can tune in to Amazon Video on my phone, my iPad, my iMac – everywhere BUT my actual TV if I depend on an Apple TV for content.

        Fortunately, my newest Smart TV has allowed me to put the ATV on the shelf.

    1. The usual obvious response:

      Who do YOU recommend to replace Apple management? Boot ‘Timmy’ for a more competent WHO specifically?


      (And yes Bot, I’d talk to Scott Forstall, with caution).

      1. I can’t speak for rfrmac, but I’ve proposed lists of potential CEO replacement candidates in the past. The few remaining pro-Cook fanboys here didn’t bother to comment.

        It is long past time we stop treating CEOs as if they were demi-gods. Most of them act as if they are insanely busy working 16 hours per day but when you look at what that “work” entails, it is mostly cheerleadering, some salesmanship here and there, and listening to other people pitch their status reports. They are no better than the advisors that tell them what they need to know, and are absolutely not worth what they are paid. If you replaced the CEOs with the ~400 PhD technical experts that you could afford with a the average salary of a single CEO, you would easily have another 2 or 3 world leading product lines.

        But who are we kidding, right? Apple will coast along for several years under feckless management because Jobs’ app store keeps printing easy money. As long as the money comes in on the one product line that Apple seems to be able to update annually, then Cook’s throne is secure. I just hate to see what happens in 3 or 4 years when that is the only product Apple is able to sell. It’s painfully obvious that Cook has no intention of spending a dime on expanding the Mac ecosystem. All Apple profits today are hoarded by the entrenched professional management who is too gutless to take any technical risks. So look as Apple attempts to claim to be innovative when it sells 5+ year old iPods. We see Apple aging into a fat slow version of Microsoft, selling 4+ year old Mac hardware and embarrassing junk like the near-useless Apple TV that is easily bested in every measurable way by a Roku that costs 2/3 as much. Airports and displays disappear to be replaced by cheap plastic junk that LG had to recall because Apple is too lazy to pay any attention to user experience anymore.

        1. Wow. Thank you for an in depth and thoughtful post! Always appreciated. I’m particularly impressed by your point:

          If you replaced the CEOs with the ~400 PhD technical experts that you could afford with a the average salary of a single CEO, you would easily have another 2 or 3 world leading product lines.

          That’s essentially the concept of driving Apple back into entrepreneurial mode, versus whatever stodgy mode they’re in right now. I have to wonder.

          What you describe regarding the current Apple is very reminiscent of what I confronted while at Eastman Kodak, the inspiration for my rants about Marketing-As-Management. It’s going to be interesting in the future to gain insight into what’s going on right now at Apple.

  4. Yup slow and safe seems to be the new motto that Apple is taking into their new headquarters which was designed to say anything but. If no one is able to pick the future to commit to then stand aside for someone who can as Microsoft found you can only survive of holding back innovation for so long especially since Apple showed others the way, until it became contemptuous of its own message/lesson through familiarity no doubt and the accountants started running things.

  5. It’s like our government. You need all the players to want to do more than say “no”. Congress has done very little so far due to the minority party blocking them at every turn. Until media companies want to play, there’s very little Apple can do but tread water until they’re ready to talk.

    1. No kidding.
      We bought a Samsung TV for the living room.
      Slim, well designed, intuitive remote. A far cry from the previous one.
      They learned.
      Apple? The remote is a giant pain in the neck.
      This next update I guarantee Apple will not listen to complaints but keep the same design.

  6. TV is not the only role a device like this can play. Why not an Airplay Streaming server? Why not a home video server? Why not more HomeKit integration?

    I have Airfoil (synchronized audio to many airplay receivers) running on a Mac server. Why can’t that be done on an Apple TV?

  7. 4K. Gee Whiz. ‘J105’ will make people with money to burn on over-rated resolution TVs very happy. (Except I do highly recommend the improved color that’s separately tacked on to 4K TVs and sadly, deliberately, diabolically not onto new 1080p TVs).

    Meanwhile, let’s be realistic:
    ALL the TV box manufacturers are deliberately hobbled by the antiquated Media oligarchy who refuse to catch up with the 21st century. The article provides applicable examples.

    Do you feel manipulated by the Media oligarchy? You are.

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