Can Apple Succeed in the Television Business?

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Having revolutionized the way people purchase music and having created a revolution in the tablet industry, Apple is rumored to be turning its sights to the realm of television. Naturally, the Cupertino-based company isn’t commenting on those rumors, but industry observers feel that Apple is definitely looking to television as the new frontier to conquer.

The question is — Can Apple succeed in the television business?

The Vision of Steve Jobs

Before his death, Steve Jobs clearly stated that he wanted Apple to get into the television arena. Jobs wanted Apple to create an extremely simple “smart TV” that worked seamlessly with any number of peripherals. In fact, Jobs reportedly told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he had “cracked” the code for building that sort of device.

Since many people consider Steve Jobs a man of great vision as well as the man responsible for the way the world views smartphones, why wouldn’t Apple sign on to his vision and continue down the path he wanted?

One word: Content.

Content is King

Right now the demand for content on any number of devices and platforms is increasing exponentially. Thanks to companies such as Netflix and Amazon, anyone can watch television programming on his or her smartphone and tablet. For Apple to jump into providing television programming too, it needs to have a tremendous amount of content available — and that might prove difficult. After all, the current leaders in content are the cable companies, and they’re not exactly eager to shake up their business model.

This is evident in the way companies such as HBO have apps available that allow subscribers to view their content on mobile devices. Why do they do that? Simple — If you’re watching HBO on your tablet, you might decide to cancel your subscription to Netflix or Hulu. Apple will probably seek to be the “new” Netflix and take a page from the HBO playbook in the same way.

If Apple is to succeed in television, it needs to find a way to get content providers onboard and work with Apple. When Steve Jobs was alive, the man had a knack for making such deals happen, but without him at the helm, it might be far more difficult.

The Marketplace

At the moment, the answer is not clear-cut if Apple can succeed in the television business, because everything is speculative. However, one thing is fairly certain — Apple needs to deliver a product that is extremely affordable for consumers. After all, not many people are going to throw away their existing televisions in favor of an Apple TV — especially in multiple TV households.

Apple can circumvent the problem of having to buy a new Apple TV by working with cable companies to provide something like a set-top box that contains an Apple interface integrated with cloud storage. Such a setup would give people the option to keep their current televisions while also engaging in the Apple TV experience. To make that happen, however, Apple must work with the cable providers to reach an agreement agreeable to all parties. In fact, Apple already has a set-top box known as “Apple TV” that could well be the forerunner of what Apple has planned for the future.

In the end, while nothing is yet written in stone, it does appear that Apple is poised to enter the world of television. As to whether or not it will succeed, few people seem willing to bet against Apple.

About Joe Sucharda

Joe Sucharda is vice president, corporate marketing, for Sencore, an engineering leader in the development of video delivery and high-quality signal transmission solutions. He has extensive experience in the telecommunications industry.

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