How Apple Wins the Streaming War

Apple and HBO recently announced their exclusive partnership for the HBONow streaming service. If this partnership went further and, say, Apple bought HBO, Apple would be serious player in the streaming market. Apple has the hardware and the platform (through iOS and AppleTV) to launch a streaming service. Buying HBO would give them the unique content they need and a loyal subscriber base — before they even inked deals with other studios.

I doubt Apple is thinking about buying HBO and I doubt Time Warner is interested in selling off one of their best properties, but it’s an interesting proposition. HBO rolls into Apple and becomes the studio and backbone for unique content in Apple’s streaming service. HBO immediately secures its future relevancy. Apple keeps all HBO cable contracts in place, but locks down all digital HBO content to an Apple streaming service. As Apple updates their contracts to include streaming content (they already have contracts with studios for transactional content), they push their service as part of some sort iCloud+ membership that also includes music streaming (courtesy of the Beats acquisition). In this scenario, Apple owns a majority of your entertainment ecosystem.

I understand how implausible this may be as an acquisition, but it would be exciting and I’d love to see how that full entertainment experience could be shaped.

Amazon has tried. I worked at Amazon Instant Video (AIV) and had the pleasure of being on an amazing team and owning some high visibility projects, even presenting to Jeff Bezos. I love Amazon, but thus far they’ve failed to capture the entire entertainment ecosystem. AIV has spread rapidly over the past couple years and even has some great original series, but how many people actually use Amazon for entertainment aside from AIV and ebooks? Did you know you Amazon has a streaming music service (through prime — Prime Music), unlimited photo storage, or its own app store (for Android). Most people I’ve talked to don’t. Even so, within Amazon, it doesn’t feel like a cohesive ecosystem.

Apple has the means to build something better. If they do, they beat Spotify, they beat Netflix, and they beat Amazon. They win.