Jobs: Apple TV a hobby because there's no market

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Speaking at All Things Digital, Steve Jobs answered a question about the future of television by saying the problem with the lack of innovation in television was that there is no viable way to bring new products to the market.



The existing market for set top boxes is heavily subsidized by cable operators, Jobs said, who "give everybody a step top box for free, or for $10 per month. That pretty much squashes any opportunity for innovation, because nobody's willing to buy a set top box.



"Ask Tivo, ask Replay TV, ask Roku, ask Vudu, ask us, ask Google in a few months," Jobs quipped, taking a pessimistic shot at Google's recently announced plans to put Android in a series of TVs and set top boxes. He noted Sony and Panasonic have already tried as well.



The problem with adding an additional box to users' experience, Jobs said, is that they then end up with a variety of different boxes, each with its own remote and a unique user interface.



"The only way that's ever going to change," Jobs said, "is if you can really go back to square one, tear up the set top box, redesign it from scratch with a consistent UI across all these different functions, and get it to consumers in a way that they're willing to pay for it. And right now there's no way to do that."



Jobs said Apple decided to work on the iPhone over trying to fix television, and again prioritized the tablet with the iPad over television, but that there wasn't any potential to really do anything in the television market anyway.



"The TV is going to lose until there's a better--until there's a viable--go to market strategy," Jobs said. "Otherwise you're just making another Tivo. It's not a problem with technology, not a problem with vision, it's a fundamental go to market problem."



Asked if it made sense to partner with a major cable company the way Apple partnered with AT&T to bring the iPhone to market, Jobs said, "Well then you run into another problem. Which is: there isn't a cable operator that's national. There's a bunch of cable operators.



"And then it not like there's a GSM standard where you build a phone for the US and it also works in all these other countries. No, every single country has different standards, different government approvals, it's very? Tower of Bableish. No, balkanized."



Jobs concluded by saying "I'm sure smarter people than us will figure this out, but that's why we say Apple TV a hobby; that's why we use that phrase."



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 85
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,192member
    What an odd interview.
  • Reply 2 of 85
    openivoopenivo Posts: 3member
    The enhanced television experience should be financed the same way as original television, with advertising.



    My idea is to set up a network of internet-connected PCs with output to the TV screen. Plug the box between the TV and the video source (satellite, cable, or free over-the-air) and the computer provides free DVR service, social networking, web content, and the ability to fast forward through commercials.



    The system could be easily financed by directed advertising by adding a few commercials to recorded or "live" programs. The extra commercials would be unobtrusive, and directed to the location, tastes, and interests of the viewer. Smart marketing would make these commercials the best on TV, and probably desired, recorded, and replayed by viewers.



    If interested, see the published patent claims at:

    Home computers subsidized with targeted television advertising.

    COMPUTER-COST SUBSIDIZING METHOD United States Patent Application 20100058378

    See it at: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2010/0058378.html



    Marc Allan Feldman
  • Reply 3 of 85
    gee4orcegee4orce Posts: 165member
    I think this is why Sky does so well in the UK. The are nationwide and their set top box has a good consistent UI as well as lots of features. Shame they are overpriced
  • Reply 4 of 85
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Hang on... isn't Google TV built into the TV in some cases?



    Lets say, hypothetically, that Google TV gets built into every single new TV. I have to wonder if Jobs would have the same opinion.
  • Reply 5 of 85
    chiachia Posts: 692member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Openivo View Post


    My idea is to set up a network of internet-connected PCs with output to the TV screen... and the ability to fast forward through commercials

    ...

    The system could be easily financed by directed advertising by adding a few commercials to recorded or "live" programs...



    Your idea already has a fundamental flaw unless the commercial skipping is offered as a premium service which the user pays for but then we're back to the beginning again...
  • Reply 6 of 85
    markbmarkb Posts: 153member
    I would say this makes it official. No new iPhone sized AppleTV announced at WWDC.
  • Reply 7 of 85
    mike fixmike fix Posts: 225member
    They're just not trying hard enough. There's plenty of room out there for new TV related products.
  • Reply 8 of 85
    bedouinbedouin Posts: 331member
    Proofread much?
  • Reply 9 of 85
    neesnees Posts: 2member
    Why are they talking about set-top boxes? Every TV manufacturer is already integrating all that stuff into their TV's. If Apple wants a TV hobby, they should consider building an Apple TV, which is an actual TV, not a set top box.
  • Reply 10 of 85
    pembrokepembroke Posts: 218member
    Wow, that's some message to potential Apple TV buyers to not bother!
  • Reply 11 of 85
    gregalexandergregalexander Posts: 1,382member
    A very insightful, if slightly depressing, assessment of the industry.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mike Fix View Post


    They're just not trying hard enough. There's plenty of room out there for new TV related products.



    Yes, kind of. As extra add ons. But not in a big way - so Apple gets to keep going but as a "hobby".



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by markb View Post


    I would say this makes it official. No new iPhone sized AppleTV announced at WWDC.



    Not at all. That could easily be a continuation of the hobby. (but the rumour said not at WWDC)



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Openivo View Post


    My idea is to ....



    There are lots of technologically interesting possibilities. The problem is the industry players, and how to keep the money flowing. I think there are some ways to do this but they take too big a leap in thinking for the networks etc to risk it - instead they try to lock down what they have.



    I wonder if a combination of carrot and stick would work better than what's been going on.



    For example - what if Apple makes a really brilliant PVR. I'm talking about something that (probably with human involvement) hits precisely the beginning and end of a show. Perhaps it even skips the commercials really easily. It has a mass of hard disk space and records a lot of the FTA content to provide a large quantity of shows on demand. It never even shows a TV guide - just a menu of content to choose from (you probably wouldn't even know what day or channel it's on). Perhaps they could add a DVD burner option (from iTunes) to convert your movies. Naturally it'd have links to other iTunes offerings etc like the current AppleTV has.



    That's the threat. The networks would hate it. I won't bother adding avi/mkv playback.



    Then to give networks some good options.

    Your local channel makes a small amount (30c(?) via advertising) from each viewer watching their show - so first choice is to either

    a) do nothing - and Apple users will skip their ads as per above, similar but better than TiVo - or

    b) offer all their content in a more forward thinking manner



    Forward thinking means giving users choice.

    - Pay the SAME amount they would have gotten through advertising and we can skip all the ads automatically.

    - or use highly targeted ads which are better value for advertisers, so we only see 1/4 as many ads

    - or watch all the regular ads but you can fast forward them (30x) (The networks prefer this greatly to skipping them altogether!)



    The downside for us is that if the network makes a deal, we actually stop getting ad-free cost free programs. The upside is our favourite shows still make enough money to continue - we choose the method of their earnings - and we get access to every episode that was ever in the series. Plus access to shows no longer on the channel and on the networks' cable channels.



    The idea is greater choice for users, and continued equivalent earnings for the show makers.



    edit: I forgot to mention DVDs.

    Convert a users' DVDs easily if there's no deal to get that movie some other way. One useful deal might be a HD upgrade to your DVD - pay the cost of the HD rental for your movie and you get to own the HD copy. (To avoid upgrading rentals, randomly force the user to re-insert their DVD after 3-4months, and remove the HD version if they can't). Working again at a win-win - the studios make money on a sale/upgrade and the user gets HD versions.
  • Reply 12 of 85
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,006member
    You never know for sure with SJ. Look how he ridiculed small screens shortly before releasing one. What were his words? "Who's want to watch a movie on a small screen?"

    He could be throwing others off the scent.
  • Reply 13 of 85
    The title of this article implies that Steve Jobs said "there is no viable market" and that is not what he said. The fact that you explained things in the article does not justify you guys titling articles incorrectly to lure people in and then tell them something else.



    Steve also made mention that we don't want to become a blogger nation, and I couldn't agree more. Especially in the tech industry, the quality of blog sites and their tactics are pretty bad.



    Writers for blogging sites bang sh*t out and don't care about the content, proofing it, much less making it informative on a consistent basis, they'll give them controversial titles that make you go "What?" to serve as it's click-bait, and hope that a raging discussion happens to increase pageviews. It's pathetic.



    Mark Hernandez

    Information Workshop
  • Reply 14 of 85
    openivoopenivo Posts: 3member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ChiA View Post


    Your idea already has a fundamental flaw unless the commercial skipping is offered as a premium service which the user pays ...



    Free commercial fast-forward is not a flaw, but a fundamental strength. Studies have shown that people with DVRs only skip commercials 50% of the time, and that is with undirected advertising. The Openivo system would lead to commercials that most people will want to see. This would be a new kind of television advertising.



    For example, a local family-owned pizza place could go online and for $20, produce and buy a commercial for a new topping or style of pizza that would only go to their local delivery area. The network will first send the commercial to a small subset of viewers. If most of the sample viewers skip the commercial, it would go back to the business owner for revising. If most of the sample seems to watch the commercial and like it, then it goes out to the whole group of viewers. That way most of the commercials that viewers see would automatically be test marketed as something viewers *want* to see. If 50,000 local business buy a spot for there local area, that would be $1,000,000 in revenue.
  • Reply 15 of 85
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,959member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post


    What an odd interview.



    What is so 'odd' about the interview?



    I thought his arguments here were brilliantly articulated, and spot on.



    Perhaps you can explain?
  • Reply 16 of 85
    krabbelenkrabbelen Posts: 243member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pembroke View Post


    Wow, that's some message to potential Apple TV buyers to not bother!



    Uhhh, that's because it's not a TV or Set-top box replacement; it never was. It's a DVD Player replacement. It's (at this moment) purely and simply about serving your iTunes media to your TV; that and nothing else. The "TV" in Apple TV is to do with connecting to a TV, not anything to with monitoring or storing programming from the traditional TV or Cable TV medium. Firmware or OS updates can change that in an instant.



    And that's why Apple still class it as a hobby. When they shake up the TV industry like they have with the music, movie and phone industries, I am sure we will be the among the first to know. I bet they do have ideas. Furthermore, I bet those who have the current incarnation of Apple TV won't be disappointed, because whatever the shake-up is, they will be able to make use of it with their early Apple TVs.



    If you like renting iTunes Movies for your large TV, if you like YouTube in your living room, if you like displaying photo albums of your grandkids with your own music in the background, if you don't like running out to the video store and running back to return movies, if you have lots of media in iTunes (and you can do a simple rip of your physical DVDs, then Apple TV is still a great product. Anyone expecting more may well be disappointed. Those who know what it does and use it for that really enjoy it.
  • Reply 17 of 85
    openivoopenivo Posts: 3member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post


    There are lots of technologically interesting possibilities. The problem is the industry players, and how to keep the money flowing. I think there are some ways to do this but they take too big a leap in thinking for the networks etc to risk it - instead they try to lock down what they have[/I]



    This is a very good point. This is why Openivo would develop a system under the control of the viewer, not the advertiser, the network, or the cable provider. Make an end run around all the big players. Make a system that works with all satellite, cable, or free over-the-air signals. Let the viewer choose.



    Set-top access is very valuable. Knowing what viewers are interested in, test marketing ads, and access for directed advertising are veins of gold. Instead of that value going to a network or a cable operator, why not use that value for the viewer. For a free computer-DVR, free broadband internet connection, and maybe free premium content.



    Most viewers would be willing to give up a little bit of privacy, for a lot of free stuff.
  • Reply 18 of 85
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,192member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    What is so 'odd' about the interview?



    I thought his arguments here were brilliantly articulated, and spot on.



    Perhaps you can explain?



    Well, odd as in:



    With Job's it's best to read between the lines. It's my guess that Apple are up to something here.

    Steve was strangely open. Thats not steve.





    and the line ""I'm sure smarter people than us will figure this out," hmm whatever...



    may as well be saying.. "you idiots go waste your time solving this 'problem' that I have misdirected you towards, whilst we come at this from an entirely different angle taking you all by surprise mwahahaha"
  • Reply 19 of 85
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nees View Post


    Why are they talking about set-top boxes? Every TV manufacturer is already integrating all that stuff into their TV's. If Apple wants a TV hobby, they should consider building an Apple TV, which is an actual TV, not a set top box.



    I don't see Apple EVER offering a TV. Too much of the cost of a TV is something that Apple can't add value to. The biggest part of a TV is simply watching programming and competitors can buy the same screens that Apple can.



    The only advantage Apple could have is in things like on-screen menus and switching between devices where their UI might be of value. But most people spend so little time there that it isn't worth a premium price.



    The only possibility I could see would be if Apple would license iPhoneOS for products that Apple doesn't want to make - cable boxes, TVs, etc. It wouldn't interfere with Apple's business but would add one more layer to the Apple iTunes/iPhone/iPad/iPod ecosystem. But even there, I doubt if the value is great enough to justify the risk of brand dilution.
  • Reply 20 of 85
    does this mean google will cancel their google tv plan?
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