Apple TV 4: Missing Features

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Why Are There So Many Missed Opportunities in Apple TV 4?

Apple had a long time to develop Apple TV 4. It’s been almost four years since the third generation Apple TV was released. Apple TV 3 only offered modest improvements on its predecessor. Given the time it took and the competitive landscape, Apple TV 4 is underwhelming. I will still buy one. I believe it will be more robust than other set-top streaming boxes. I know it will integrate with the Apple ecosystem better than any competing unit. But why so little, so late?

The problem is that Apple is too big. The corporation has grown so huge in the past few years, they are experiencing growing pains. As companies grow, they become more latent. They can’t really innovate anymore. Their last innovative product was the Mac Pro. Everything they have released over the past few years pales in comparison to the competition. Apple consumers are driven by aggressive marketing, brand loyalty, ecosystem integration, and the notion that their products offer better quality.

Given the product releases over the last few years, I have to wonder if Apple’s days of innovation are over. That might not be a bad thing, as long as they can deliver quality and ecosystem integration. It does draw the ire of Apple-haters who accuse Apple of patent abuse and lawsuits over IP infringement.

As an Apple consumer, I find it ironic. Samsung slavishly copied Apple with one of their smartphones. Apple slavishly ripped off Spotify with Apple Music, yet delivered a poor-quality product. Apple copies a lot of features and designs from other competing products. They have lost the moral high ground when it comes to intellectual property abuse. They may also be losing the ability to deliver high-quality products. They still charge a premium price, however.

Apple TV 4 might not achieve the quality consumers expect. My current 2nd generation Apple TV has turned into a nightmare of neglect. The operating system hasn’t been updated in two years. It reboots itself at least twice a night, often in the middle of a video. The Apple TV 4 demo was underwhelming. There are some neat Siri parlor tricks, but Apple TV 4 actually offers less than competing set-top streaming devices. I expected more and I don’t think this is unreasonable, given the lengthy road to release.

I am definitely buying the new Apple TV 4. Having read reviews of competing devices, they are either unstable or lock users in to their ecosystem. Apple has been accused of locking customers in to iTunes. This is simply untrue. tvOS is the only television platform where users can find third-party content using their voice. That’s the bright, shiny beacon of Apple TV 4. Apple opened up Siri, as their competitors have used voice recognition to drive vertical consumption. I am anticipating that these missed opportunities can be addressed in future software updates. I hope Apple TV 4 will offer more stability and quality than my current 2nd generation Apple TV.

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