Analyst: Apple’s biggest mistake was not buying Netflix

According to Wedbush analyst and Apple bull Dan Ives, the Cupertino Colossus has made one major misstep: not buying Netflix years ago.

Netflix logo

Daniel Howley for Yahoo Finance:

“The biggest strategic mistake, in my opinion, from Jobs and Cook over the last 10 to 12 years, is not acquiring Netflix a number of years ago,” Ives told Yahoo Finance Live, referring to the deceased founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, and the current CEO, Tim Cook.

Buying Netflix would have given Apple a huge stake in the streaming video industry, preventing it from having to build its own offering from scratch. So far, the major releases the company has include “The Morning Show,” “Ted Lasso,” and “For All Mankind,” and while they’ve gotten audiences’ attention, none have become the kind of cultural force that the likes of Netflix and Disney+ have unleashed with shows like “Tiger King,” “The Queen’s Gambit,” and “The Mandalorian.”

According to Ives, the only way for Apple to catch up to the top dogs in the streaming space is to buy a major Hollywood studio of its own.

“We’ve talked about an MGM, a Lionsgate, an A24, otherwise they’re going to continue to sort of be on the outside looking in,” Ives said. “And that’s why I think this is something they’re going to be forced into…because it’s all about content.”

Ives said Apple TV+’s relatively slim content catalog is akin to owning a mansion but having little to furnish it with.

MacDailyNews Take: Nope.

Apple’s doing just fine with Apple TV+.

Until Apple actually buys Netflix, we’ll keep saying that Apple will buy Netflix for the same reason they bought Palm. — MacDailyNews, January 31, 2016


  1. MDN is completely wrong, as usual. Apple would be a massive powerhouse in streaming if they had bought Netflix years ago. The price was pocket change for Apple and would have been an awesome use of cash instead of incinerating in buy backs.

    Instead today Apple is a complete and total non factor when it comes to TV streaming even after spending billions of dollars of cash.

      1. How many paying customers does Apple have with their streaming service? If they didn’t give 6 months, 9 months or a year of free AppleTV+ with every iPhone sold in the US, just how many of us would pay for a subscription with such a slim and in my opinion uncompelling shows (with the exception of Tehran)? I know MDN is somewhat of an Apple fanboy publication, but the true subscriber numbers don’t lie. Apple can afford to go decades with an also ran streaming service and really not care one way or the other, but Disney+, Netflix, HBOMAX, all have more compelling content. The day Apple buys another company for content purposes, I can see MDN come up with an excuse why they emphatically concluded that Apple is “just fine”…

  2. disagree with MDN. Apple TV+ is not ‘just fine’. It’s a bag of hurt that’s been hurt. Apple could turn TV+ around. It could stop making the vast majority if not totality of the programming woke indoctrination drivel. But I’m not holding my breath.

    There is a lot to dislike about Netflix as well, but it certainly offers way more and broader content.

    I’m rooting for apple, but so far, TV+ is a fart masquerading as a dud.

    1. Apple TV+ is unwatchable, but I don’t think buying Netflix would have helped, Apple would have turned it into ProgFlix just the same. Not to say that Netflix isn’t run by insane leftists (I repeat myself) but at least they don’t overtly despise half of their customers like Apple does.

  3. I agree that Apple is going to have to buy a studio for content. The question is when to do it. They could wait for a financial squeeze and then get a good value or they might have to overpay, which Apple rarely does. There’s no question that buying Netflix early on would have been the better strategic move but hindsight is 20-20. Apple’s ability as a late comer makes it difficult to catch up on the volume of content they can produce. They will be playing from behind until they buy a studio that can turn the crank with new content.

    As for MDN’s opinion I am sorry to say they are not doing fine. There is nothing new to watch on TV+. Just because there are a bunch of free subscribers does not amount to “doing just fine.” They are irrelevant. I keep seeing all these programs they have supposedly bought but its too few and far between. Maybe I am wrong, but perception is important and the perception is weak.

    Apple has deep pockets and that is what it’s going to take to win over the long run, but that might be 5 to 10 years at this rate.

  4. If Apple made a big mistake, it was not buying Disney while Jobs was on the board. Anyone with $100s of billions in cash can lease some server capacity and build an app; differentiated content is difficult to generate and would have allowed horizontal integration.

    That said, integrating a huge mobile device builder with a huge media conglomerate may not have been workable in practice.

  5. Apple could still challenge Netflix if they actually decided to purchase plenty of content instead of constantly buying back shares every single quarter. That’s Apple’s decision. I doubt Netflix is using any of its money to buy back shares. A company has to decide what they consider is most important to them. Netflix is determined to be the streaming video king and it has reached that goal. Sure, it’s probably quite expensive to stay on top and I’m sure the profits are thin, but that’s Netflix’s choice. I don’t quite understand what buying back shares actually gets Apple, but that’s Apple’s choice. Apple has about 1.5 billion active devices that they could stream to if Apple was willing to purchase plenty of decent video content. Apple can go out and purchase content any time they wish, so it’s not as though Apple has to be stuck with lacking video content. If Apple can get some people who know what type of video content needs to be purchased, Apple can quickly put pressure on Netflix.

    However, I’m absolutely certain Apple will become a $3T company and that is an amazing feat in itself. Apple will have the revenue and profits to do anything they want to do. I doubt Netflix will ever be more than a $250B company and will struggle to hold its video streaming lead against hungry rivals.

    1. You realize that the Apple executive team is primarily focused on coming up with stuff for the Chinese market, right? That is where all the sales growth is. Apple is copying whatever Tencent & Wechat & Baidu do, not what US companies do.

      The only reason Apple is wasting its money on low profitability video production and automobiles is that Timbo mistakenly thinks that tacking on more subscriptions to the Wall around the garden will keep the Apple castle solid.

      It won’t. Subscription fatigue is real. Nobody wants to be chained forever to any one mega corporation, even one that is relatively benevolent… for now. Moreover, as the whiny beeeatches on this forum regularly expose — it doesn’t matter what news you report, what entertainment show you stream, or what music you rent: there will always be a brainless loud cohort condemning it before they have even experienced it.

      Apple should therefore concentrate instead on offering the best hardware and software in the world. Leave content to the companies with no reputation to lose.

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