iTunes. On Samsung TVs
. It’s mind-boggling. For a few reasons
– I’ll have more on this soon. For now, let’s consider what it means in relation to the big news last week: Apple’s fast-tracked push to services
in an (likely feeble – for years, at least) attempt to offset the maturity of the iPhone business.
For years, Apple’s general playbook has been to sell hardware augmented with their own software. In the early days, this worked well. Then it stopped working as well (for various reasons), as Windows took over the world. Then it started working insanely well. And in turn, made Apple the most valuable company on the planet – one that would eventually eclipse the $1 trillion mark
Anyway, the general game plan has always been the same: excellent hardware mixed with great software. Two peas in a pod.
Incidentally, it was a pod that started to change the equation. The iPod. In order to reach a wider audience with that device, Apple had to do something that was against Steve Jobs’ DNA: make software for Windows. The slope ultimately proved slippery, but in a slow way. Eventually, we got (and then lost) Safari for Windows. And in the more recent era, Apple Music for Android.
And now here we are with iTunes (iTunes!) for… Tizen
(Tizen?!). The slope is far more slippery these days…
But it had to be. This latest surprise is a direct result of the failure of the Apple TV strategy
. Don’t get me wrong, the device itself has always been and remains fine
– though we won’t talk about the remote, which is an abomination – but it’s not and never has been great. This is despite the fact that it runs great software: iOS. The strategy with the device has been wrong from the get-go
And no less than Steve Jobs seemed to know this from those early days. It was always a “hobby” – the device that may one day become another leg of the stool, but wasn’t ready yet. And while Jobs told Walter Isaacson on his deathbed that Apple had finally cracked
the code, something has happened in the intervening years, and Apple clearly went back to the drawing board – or rather, stayed there.
And it was this inaction and lack of imagination which doomed the Apple TV. And led to this strategy shift. Tizen!
Make no mistake: Apple will continue to sell and slowly evolve the Apple TV. But this announcement is an admission that it will never be the mass market device in the way that something like the iPhone has become. Roku has more market share. Amazon has more market share. Google has more market share. And yes, Samsung has far more market share.
In order to move into the new services world order, Apple needs to care about something they have decidedly not cared about in the past: market share
. That means you have to cut deals with the largest makers of televisions to gear up to launch your forthcoming television streaming service. And it means you likely cut deals to work with all of those other players too. This is going to be weird.