Apple TV: Is It The Next Big Developer Platform? - InformationWeek

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9/11/2015
08:05 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
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Apple TV: Is It The Next Big Developer Platform?

Apple TV is revamped, but the company has plans bigger than a simple upgrade. Can it provide the next great platform for game developers and content?

iPhone 6S, iPad Pro, TV, Watch: Apple's Fall Lineup
iPhone 6S, iPad Pro, TV, Watch: Apple's Fall Lineup
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At Apple's Sept. 9 event, Apple TV received its first big upgrade in many years.

Although the set-top box itself has some nice new features to it, which may end up justifying in consumer's eyes its doubling in price, the real story here may be the ecosystem that Apple wants to develop around it.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook said at the announcement, "The future of TV is apps."

A media professional would have said "content."

Apps are one kind of content for the TV to display and work with. To Apple, apps seem to mean mainly games.

It's clear from the event that Apple hopes its stable of iOS developers will convert their smartphone games to run on the new tvOS, which is based on iOS. Indeed, Apple has shipped beta tools this week that will help anyone trying to do an iOS to tvOS port. The company hopes that developers will look at the Apple TV as another platform for their content.

However, this micro-gaming market already has quite a few players in there. For example, Amazon's Fire TV, Nvidia's Shield Android TV, and Razer's Forge micro-console have all tried to mix video gaming with media streaming. None have had a great success in it.

Aiding Apple's gaming positioning, the new remote that comes with the updated TV has built-in sensors that enable motion-controlled game play. The TV also supports third-party gamer remotes that use MFi networking like the Nimbus Steelseries Controller.

[Read more of InformationWeek's coverage of Apple TV.]

Content on the Apple TV will come from the TV App Store, modeled on the iPhone app store. Apple is promising that the content appearing during the official October launch will include "iTunes movies and TV shows. Netflix and Hulu. ABC and Disney. HBO and Showtime."

However, all of this entertainment content is pay-as-you-eat. It costs money. Additionally, aside from iTunes, this content is exactly what you can get on a Roku streaming stick that costs $50. Or on the current version of Apple TV that costs $70.

Apple needs to differentiate itself from other streamers, and to provide a compelling reason to view Apple TV. It needs its own TV channel.

Apple already has relationships with major content providers, forged when Apple began to sell movies and TV shows in the iTunes store.

Variety has reported that "a flirtation" with content providers has been going on for some time now. However, even the most optimistic observers do not think that an Apple-branded content channel would be possible until next year.

An Apple channel that is advertiser-supported -- and therefore free to the end-viewer -- would be a major competitive advantage for Apple. It would be a contrast to the other paid services available as apps for the TV, and could provide a badly needed compelling reason for customers to purchase the device.

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio
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larryloeb
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larryloeb,
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9/21/2015 | 6:21:38 AM
Re: Content
Well, I don't know much about the LA media scene, so I will accept your view.

I still think that all local media wins when the cable guys get hosed. 

Local advertisers will realize adblockers dont work on the radio....
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
9/20/2015 | 8:16:44 PM
Re: Content

@larryloeb 

That's an interesting question and thank you for asking. I am embarrassed to admit I had not even thought about the old school forms of Media ( Radio and Newspapers) but I think you are right, cord cutting can be a potential boon for this form of media.  

 I am not sure I personally would revert to buying a paper but I might  go to their sites more often - which I do actually.  Which brings up an interesting aspect to this - I live in Los Angeles, which is the chief reason I am so jaded with the local news which consists of nothing more than how many died today, the latest fire or heavy rain not to mention the car chase which can last for hours.   Nothing of substance comes from Los Angles based local news and it is a depressing waste of time.  

I was an avid L.A. Times reader  before the information age took over and even then I occasionally check out the Sports section online where I have been met with an articles limit unless I become a member.  Well I don't want to be a member and with so many choices to get news freely available I finally have some choice about the matter.  I like many paid for a paper nearly daily for countless years only to read a third of it back in the days of no choice so now I don't want the L.A.Times telling me anything.   They are not the only game in town anymore. 

I occasionally read the New York Times and don't recall this type of heavy handedness or the Washington Post for that matter.     I understand traditional papers need to find revenue but there are other ways to do it - just ask Google.  

Not sure how I got on this tangent, but it is something that has bothered me for quite some time.   Not every paper functions as dysfunctionally as the L.A. Times so cord cutting has great potential to bring eye-balls back to old-school forms of media.  And I really hope it does, because as I mentioned the local news affiliates have no intention of ever conveying anything useful much less meaningful in L.A.

 

Even the L.A. Times might benefit.

larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/20/2015 | 6:36:02 PM
Re: Content
News can be very much skewed by how it is presented, as you well know.

Local news for cordcutters can cone from radio or newspapers, the old-school media. I wonder if all the cordcutting will aid them in seeking relevance.

What do you think?
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
9/20/2015 | 1:00:52 PM
Re: Content
Speaking of cordcutters, which I finally did some 10 years ago now, it was one of the best days of my life !

No longer indebted ( in more ways than one ) to a cable company that held me hostage for so many years - it was truly liberating. It surprises me that there are still large numbers who still fork over big bucks for content they have no time or interest to consume.

I now have a smart TV as well after doing without any TV for a couple of years so in regards to news- National was the only way to go and now that I have the local news back.

I realize more than ever I never missed it.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/19/2015 | 7:52:57 PM
Re: Content
Yeah, cordcutters are scaring the cable companies.

I think they keep hoping people won't figure out how to do it, while still keeping their local news stations.

Would you give up local news and just go national?

 
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
9/19/2015 | 12:45:20 PM
Re: Content
Cable providers really have to figure out new ways to compete as you pointed out.  I just heard Cablevision was bought by a French company.  They pointed out that the sale was due because it will give them new support to compete with these new upcoming content providers.  The good thing we as consumers will be able to have more choice and new products by our cable provider, they know if they do not provide better service, their customer based will move to Netflix or hulu+.   
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/13/2015 | 12:07:45 PM
Re: Content
Cable providers cut their own throats when they became de facto ISPs.

Cable packages will die when the cable guys figure out they can make more money by providing raw bandwidth than by providing the content that goes on it. Sort of what GoogleFiber is starting to do right now.

When the cable guys get it, the content providers will not be able to suck money from them the way they do now. Then, providers might be ready to deal with the Neflixes and AppleTV channel types.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
9/12/2015 | 4:40:02 PM
Re: Content
I think Cable network should really start preparing for the worst.  Their will be a huge wave of competitors entering their market and if they do not start providing new services and innovation to consumers, they could face some huge problems.  What could cable providers do to improve their services?  Some people are saying doing away with channel packages because people want more freedom on what program to what.  Would this be enough?
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2015 | 6:58:28 PM
Re: Content
Let me connect some dots here. Bear with me.

tvOS is a variant of iOS9. iOS9 introduces content blocking APIs for browsers.

Content blocking won't be enabled for apps.

One of the jarring (to me) app demos at the event was for Gilt, a shopping service. It was a catalog displayed on the TV.

Apps will be the only way advertisers will be able to, in the future, assure their ads will be displayed on Apple devices when they are connected to the internet.

Apps will be the way Apple tries to control what ads will be displayed, even potentially on TV content. Satellite TVs already use these kinds of hoppers.

Apple is trying to disrupt TV in the way it is trying to disrupt the entire web.

I'm not sure I want to let them have this sort of power.

 
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
9/11/2015 | 6:26:50 PM
Content
Traditional content will of course always be a part of the equation, but I also think there is something to be said about apps. Television needs to evolve, and I think Apple is certainly forcing the issue. I would expect the traditional broadcast and cable networks have cause for concern, and it's warranted. 
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