In a interview in 2010, Steve Jobs did a very good job explaining the challenges with Apple TV. He stated that there wasn’t a viable go to market strategy for set top boxes and that is why the company considered Apple TV a hobby.
“The problem with innovation in the television industry is the go to market strategy.
The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everybody a set top box for free, or for $10 a month. And that pretty much squashes innovation because no one is willing to buy a set top box.
Ask TiVo. Ask Replay TV. Ask Roku, Ask Vudu, Ask us, Ask Google in a few months. Sony’s tried, Panasonic’s tried, we’ve all tried. So, all you can do is add a box onto the TV system.
You can say … I’ll add another little box with another one. You end up with a table full of remotes, cluster full of boxes, bunch of UIs.
The only way that’s ever gonna change is if you really go back to square one and you tear up the set top box and design it with a consistent UI and deliver it to the customer in a way they’re willing to pay for it. Right now there’s no way to do that. So that’s the problem with the TV market.
We decided, do we want a better TV or a better phone? The phone won out because there was no way to get it to market. What do we want more? A better tablet or a better TV? Well, probably a better tablet.
But it doesn’t matter because there’s no way to get a TV to market. The TV is going to lose until there is a viable go to market strategy, otherwise you’re just making another TiVo.
That make sense?
It’s not a problem of technology, it’s not a problem of vision, it’s a fundamental go-to-market problem.
There isn’t a cable operator that’s national, there’s a bunch of operators. And it’s not like there’s GSM, where you build a phone and it works in all these other countries. No every single country has different standards. It’s very ‘tower of babble-ish’, no, that’s not the right word. Balkanized.
I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out. But when we say Apple TV is a hobby, that’s why we use that phrase.”
Apple now has a go to market strategy for Apple TV
Apple TV has always been just another box you can plug in to your TV and it’s solved a few problems, but it hasn’t dramatically changed the television experience. The new Apple TV will solve more problems, such as Universal Search, Siri voice commands, improvements to remote and most importantly letting developers create native apps for the first time. However, for the time being it will still be just another box you plug into your TV.
Those improvements are a big step in Apple’s long term plan for Apple TV. If developers create plenty of amazing apps and if enough of consumers buy Apple TVs, that would give Apple an advantage in negotiating with networks. According to multiple sources, Apple has been trying to put together a streaming service with packages of popular channels for around $40 a month.
It’s true that Apple has struggled with other services in the past, but if they could pull it off, Apple TV could be the only set top box you need. Apple has been planing this for years and the chips are falling in place for their go to market strategy for Apple TV.