John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple Television Must Crack the Customizable Content Code, Too

Apple may have “cracked” the code to creating an integrated, easy-to-use television, as co-founder Steve Jobs famously told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. But the challenge of conquering the living room won’t be overcome by simplifying the user experience alone.

No matter how elegant the mythical Apple Television may be in its design, no matter how intuitive its interface, it won’t be worth much to anyone without great content. For an Apple Television to truly succeed it must crack the content code, as well. And that’s a very difficult proposition, indeed.

Which isn’t to say it can’t be done. Just that there are a lot of content partnerships and licensing terms to be ironed out before the device can ever be brought to market (if that is really Apple’s intent). Among the most important: Deals for live-broadcast TV and truly customized programming.

As Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu observes, the first of these could be solved relatively easily, by integrating the subscription services cable and satellite TV providers already offer their customers.

But that doesn’t jibe well with Apple’s existing iTunes and iCloud services. And it’s not all that disruptive. If Apple truly wants to upend the TV industry, it needs Internet-based programming subscriptions with customizable channel lineups. And, according to Wu, that’s what the company is really gunning for.

“We continue to hear what Apple would love to do is offer users the ability to choose their own customized programming, i.e., whichever channels/shows they want for a monthly subscription fee,” Wu says. “This is obviously much more complicated from a licensing standpoint. … In our view, it would change the game for television.”

It would also differentiate Apple’s television, giving it a big advantage over the competition. An easy-to-use, all-in-one TV solution similar to the iMac, plus the ability to create your own custom channel packages? To many TV viewers, that would be a godsend.

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