Apple TV+ is a bit of an afterthought
Apple’s streaming service seems fine, but it’s not meant to be a hero product
While Apple TV+ was announced many months ago, details about the product were released this week.
Apple is one of the oddest entrants into the streaming wars because, while they are dominant in the device space, there isn’t much precedent for content creation. Outside of the “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” commercials, we don’t really know what Apple content looks like. They aren’t a media company, they aren’t a studio, and they certainly aren’t a telecommunications company.
But let’s be honest, those categories and classifications are old world. As we near the roaring 2020’s, there’s room for everyone to do everything. So why shouldn’t Apple create and produce platinum level television? Go for it! After all, those commercials were pretty funny!
In all seriousness, Apple’s unique position in this game means that their streaming strategy will be much different than most other companies. Netflix needs people to watch its content because…that’s what their business does. Apple, Amazon, and to a lesser extent even Disney, see DTC streaming services as something that exists to complement the core business, build some hype, and stay sticky, making it harder for customers to ever cancel a service or truly break up with them.
This is the reason why Apple announced the service will be just $4.99/month and free for a year when you buy an Apple device. It’s a strategy that will probably work pretty well, and it’s just another brick in the wall of the services business Apple is leaning into. I wonder how many couples will pass on getting new phones simultaneously and will alternate years in order to avoid ever paying for Apple TV+.
You also have to wonder how, at such a low price point, this could ever be a profitable endeavor for Apple. As a standalone, it will almost certainly lose money. But the company has an incredible amount of cash on hand. It need only keep its customer base happy and coming back for more incremental updates. Additionally, in virtually every scenario you can draw up for the future with the way that businesses are infringing on each other’s territory, having a library of content is a strength. As was mentioned, Apple has nothing. If it can produce even a few hit shows, that could give it something to lean on for decades.
The Apple TV+ news has been met, mostly, with a bit of a shrug. The shows look fine, but what can you really tell from a trailer? They’re essentially giving it away, will that last? How will TV+ work with News+, Apple Arcade, and the Apple Card? None of this is exceedingly clear.
Still, one can derive from the information that is available that Apple does have a plan. They’re not just putting a bunch of celebrities on stage for the sake of spectacle, as they were earlier this year. Maybe TV+ isn’t intended to be a world-bending Netflix competitor, but it should exist in a fairly interesting space and work as intended as part of the larger Apple ecosystem.
Why Should You Care?: It’s easy to lump all of the forthcoming streaming products together into one category, but the goals and purposes of each show many nuanced differences. With its low price point and “free with your purchase of” status, it’s become more evident what Apple truly wants out of Apple TV+.