Apple’s TV Plans Are Still Stuck in Neutral

Here's a head fake of a story: Apple and Hollywood studios are wrangling over pricing for "4K" movies Apple plans to sell on a new version of its Apple TV box.

Not that it's not a real story: As The Wall Street Journal reports, the studios want a higher price and Apple wants a lower one. That is: This is the same fight Apple continually has with its media partners, whether it's music, books or TV channels.

But the bigger story for Apple is that this used to be a fight that Apple would ultimately win, because Apple was the dominant player in digital media. That's not true anymore.

Apple is pushing for 4K movies because it is adding 4K support -- the ability to watch stuff in super-high definition -- to its revamped Apple TV box it will roll out next month. Apple hopes the new capability will help it reclaim market share from cheaper video boxes and dongles sold by Amazon, Google and Roku.

You can argue whether 4K TVs are a niche product that will ultimately go mainstream -- or just a niche product. But adding 4K support alone certainly won't help Apple leapfrog the competition right now, and Apple doesn't have anything else on tap to help Apple TV stand out.

This isn't where Apple thought it would be in 2017.

For years, Apple had very ambitious ambitions in TV: Steve Jobs wanted to build an integrated TV set/pay TV service, but he never got close to the terms he would have needed from TV programmers to make it work.

After his death, Apple execs kept trying to get the TV service set up, but couldn't get the deals they wanted, either -- even though competitors, including Dish, AT&T and Google, did. Instead, Apple rolled out a souped-up version of its old Apple...

Comments are closed.