By Chand Bellur
September 3, 2020 at 3:10 p.m.
- Apple TV is a small entertainment system for the home, capable of streaming media and running apps, such as games.
- The device, first launched in 2007, was a pet project of Steve Jobs; however, its success has proven elusive.
- New research from Strategy Analytics shows that Apple TV accounts for only 2% of the video streaming device market.
Apple TV Clobbered by Samsung
You can’t win them all, and, for Apple, their TV platform is a loser. Recent data from Strategy Analytics show that Apple TV only makes up 2% of the video streaming device market. These devices include smart TVs, game consoles, dongles, and “set-top” units, such as Apple TV. Samsung, one of Apple’s biggest competitors, enjoys a 14% share of this highly fragmented market.
Apple isn’t only bested by Samsung. Virtually every competitor sells more TV streaming devices than the Cupertino tech giant. Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have 4%, 3%, and 5% market share, respectively. Even fledgling streaming provider Roku earned 3% of this market.
Apple TV has been around for a long time. With almost 14 years of the device, and Apple’s powerful brand marketing, one would expect much better traction. New streaming devices from Google, Roku, Amazon, and others have all quickly surpassed Apple TV.
Apple TV: Too Little Too Late
According to organization theory, large, latent corporations often adapt and move slowly. Apple is a perfect example. They were late to the streaming video and music markets. The Apple that created the iPhone was a small, agile company. The one that made Apple Music and Apple TV is much larger and more latent.
Apple TV got its start as Steve Jobs’ hobby. He believed he cracked the TV market, and this device would be the future of Apple. Steve Jobs, often touted as a visionary genius, couldn’t have been more wrong about the product. It’s a complete flop that 14 years of improvements and marketing couldn’t fix.
Price is the main impediment to Apple TV adoption. Apple’s minuscule hockey puck costs $149 – $199. Although far less capable, Google’s Chromecast dongle only costs $30 and can stream virtually any content from a phone to TV.
Google actually copied Apple’s AirPlay technology and popularized it. In a cruel irony, most people seem to believe Apple copied AirPlay from Google’s Chromecast device. So few people use AirPlay, it’s easy to believe the system with wider adoption came first.
Will the Real Apple TV Please Stand Up?
Apple’s innovative marketing is all but absent from its TV platform. The actual name, Apple TV, is fraught with problems caused by bad decisions.
Apple TV refers to three different things — a streaming device, an app, and a streaming service. The streaming service is somewhat differentiated by the other two entities, having been named Apple TV+. However, the name could seem like an improved version of the TV device, rather than a subscription service. It’s a muddled marketing vision from a company that is known for distorting reality.
The root cause of Apple TV’s failure is neglect. For too long, the company only really cared about the iPhone device and Messages app. Apple put a lot of energy into text messaging, because that’s what Millenials want. It sells the iPhone, which is their flagship product.
With both neglect and a tradition of making expensive products locking them out of one of the most lucrative markets, Apple is now in a difficult situation. Apple should be a major player in streaming media. They’ve developed tight relationships between companies like HBO, Disney, and ABC. Unfortunately, they can’t pull out of this nosedive.
People who buy a smart TV don’t need an Apple TV device. If their TV doesn’t run apps, they can buy an inexpensive streaming dongle for less than thirty dollars. Many consumers use hardwired PCs or game consoles to enjoy streaming video on the big screen.
Consumers can also connect an iPhone to virtually any TV using a Lightning to HDMI cable. Using the free Apple TV app and myriad other apps in the App Store, an iPhone hardwired to a TV serves as an adequate entertainment system. Apple doesn’t understand the market, and it seems like they never will.
Apple probably won’t kill off its TV device. It’s essentially made out of leftover iPhone parts, making it low hanging fruit. Rumors suggest that a new, revised model will launch in 2021; however, it will only feature minor improvements over the last model.