You Know What Else Started Out Like Apple TV? The iPod.
For years, Apple defined the device that way, resisting suggestions that television was the next market it planned to disrupt. But as company co-founder Steve Jobs said at our D5 conference in 2007, another Apple creation had similar humble beginnings and went on to become one of the company’s most transformative products.
“I use the word hobby because it’s provocative,” Jobs told AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg in 2007. “But the iPod started this way. The iPod started off feeling a lot like this.”
And to hear Apple CEO Tim Cook tell it today, Apple TV might be poised for a similar transition. In an interview with NBC, Cook said that Apple’s view of the television market is changing, and hinted that Apple TV may no longer be the hobby it began as.
“When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook said. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”
That comment marks a clear departure from Apple’s long-running narrative about its plans for the TV market and the unique challenge it presents, one that Jobs once said would likely be met and overcome by someone else.
“The problem with innovation in the TV industry is the go-to-market strategy,” Jobs said in 2010 at our D8 conference. “The TV industry has a subsidized model that gives everyone a set-top box for free. So no one wants to buy a box. Ask TiVo, ask Roku, ask us … ask Google in a few months. The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everyone a set-top box, and that pretty much undermines innovation in the sector. The only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it. But right now, there’s no way to do that. … The TV is going to lose until there’s a viable go-to-market strategy. That’s the fundamental problem with the industry. It’s not a problem with the technology, it’s a problem with the go-to-market strategy. …. I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out.”
Two and a half years later, no one has. But some very smart people are doing some very intense thinking.