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Apple's TV play won't be first, but it could be the best

Dan Moren | May 4, 2015
Tim Cook said during Monday's conference call that "we're in the early stages of major, major changes in media." Whatever could he mean?


Winter is coming.

Okay, that may not be exactly what Tim Cook said at the end of Apple's quarterly financial conference call this past Monday, but the sentiment of the CEO's closing comments on the future of media seemed pretty clear:

... I think HBO in particular has some incredibly great content, and so we're marrying their great content, our great product and ecosystem. And it's clear from looking at the early returns, we've only been at this for a couple weeks or so, that there's a lot of traction in there. And so where could it go? I don't want to speculate. But you can speculate probably as good as I can about where that can go. I think we're on the early stages of just major, major changes in media that are going to be really great for consumers, and I think Apple could be a part of that.

Still, we've heard this song and dance before many a time. What's so different now?

Simply put, the world is different. Watching streaming content online isn't just something tech nerds do--whether it be binging on Daredevil or House of Cards via Netflix, catching up on Saturday Night Live sketches on Hulu, or just browsing music videos on YouTube, we're all consuming Internet video at a prodigious rate.

Plenty of companies have jockeyed to be part of this changing landscape: the late, lamented Aereo flew too close to the sun, while Sling TV and HBO are just now staking their claims. Apple itself is rumored to be heading down a similar path, providing a monthly subscription service comprising a package of channels.

It may be a while yet before getting one's TV service online is the norm, but with all the shakeups in television production and distribution, it's clear that change is not only inevitable, but imminent.

Old media
Of course, this isn't Apple's first foray into TV by any means--the company's been selling TV shows online since 2005, when the only devices on which you could watch were either a Mac or an iPod with a tiny screen.

Apple tried to translate its success with selling music into movies and television shows, and while it was an early mover in the market, the value proposition never quite worked out. For most folks, buying a TV season is overkill compared to an album or even a movie that you might consume over and over again--rewatching an entire TV season or series is a much bigger commitment. Not to mention the disk space you need to store it all.


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