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  • About Yet Another Dumb Argument Predicting Apple’s Failure at TV

    September 8th, 2017

    I’ll try to phrase this commentary carefully because, as usual, Apple must play by a different set of rules. If a blogger perceives the rules may no longer apply, the company must be in really deep trouble. Not just ordinary trouble, but deep trouble. Really deep trouble. Deep.

    So let’s start at all those reports that Apple is going to spend at least $1 billion to acquire or develop TV shows. In order to hit the ground running, the company has reportedly hired several seasoned executives from Sony TV to make sure it’s done properly.

    Indeed, one of the properties Apple might also be going after is the James Bond franchise. This report is based on a Hollywood Reporter story, so it might have a basis in fact. Or it may just be that Apple executives have made a number of routine inquiries, and the media, having learned about them, will give them more credibility than they warrant.

    So there may be more stories about Apple going after this, that or the other franchise. But obviously not Marvel and Star Wars, which are owned by Disney, or the DC super heroes, such as Batman and Superman — and of course Wonder Woman — all of which are owned by Warner Bros.

    But wasn’t there a story once that Apple wanted to buy Warner Bros.?

    So there’s a blog in a certain publication that suggests Apple is “losing its cool factor,” which may prevent the company from succeeding in the TV production business.

    Now on the surface, or above or below, this is utter nonsense.

    Sure, there may be some truth to the fact that Apple is far more predictable than it used to be. Going into a media event, the public usually has a good handle on what’s coming. Sure, there may be a few details here and there that you don’t know about. Take the actual configuration of the iMac Pro, or even that there will be an entirely separate product line that catered to a very different audience than the mainstream iMac.

    But does predictable mean less cool? Compared to whom?

    The blogger in question assumes that Apple used to dominate the industries it entered, and that the competition is smarter now, so therefore that’s no longer possible.

    But in fact Apple rarely dominates a market. Certainly the Mac never dominated the PC market, at the beginning, the middle or the present. Never happened, although market shares varied over the years. Apple does have a much larger share among premium computers, but Windows PCs still retain in the neighborhood of a 90% share of the global PC space.

    Does that somehow make Microsoft cool?

    Smartphones? Certainly iOS and the iPhone dominate in certain areas. Apple earns the lion’s share of profits. and no single smartphone outsells the iPhone. But most people have Android handsets. Apple’s market share depends on which country you’re looking at, but the numbers are usually in the mid-teens across the globe.

    The iPad may sell more units than the competition, but its sales history has been mixed, and one recent quarter of growth is not enough to determine whether sales will continue to increase.

    The Apple Watch certainly leads so-called smartwatches, but the lead isn’t so clearcut if you put it into a wearables category.

    Apple Music? A work in progress. The service is young, still finding its way, and it may well be that adding TV shows will be a major factor in boosting subscriptions. But if Apple is destined to stay in second place compared to Spotify, so be it. Which company stands to make the highest profits? Indeed, how much money has Spotify lost so far? As subscriptions grow, so does the red ink. How long can that situation continue before its access to capital markets dries up?

    Do I have to answer?

    But is it really true that only a company perceived as “cool” can succeed in TV production?

    Is Warner Bros. cool? Well, it did produce “Wonder Woman,” currently regarded as one of the best super hero movies ever. Does that make the company cool or the producers, director and stars? What about Comcast, which owns NBC/Universal? Is a cable company cool even if it does own a big entertainment company? Really?

    Is Disney cool because it partly owns the ESPN sports network, and wholly owns ABC, Marvel, Star Wars, some overpriced theme parks and Mickey Mouse? Does that make the corporation somehow cool? Or are the properties cool for those who enjoy them?

    Netflix? Amazon? Hulu? HBO? Showtime? CBS All Access because a new Star Trek series is coming soon?

    This is a perfectly ridiculous argument that has little to do with the quality of the content that Apple may produce or acquire. Will buying 007 help? Remember that the entertainment business is only cool when the product is cool, and otherwise we’re dealing with yet another money-making corporation with mostly faceless executives.

    At least Tim Cook has improved his public persona to make him sort of cool, but that’s in the eyes of the beholder. I want even begin to consider the argument.

    Nor will I gave any further coverage to the silly blogger who imagines that Apple’s success as a TV producer is not about the shows themselves, but somehow the result of the public’s perception of the company keeping its cool factor.

    That should be obvious to most people, but not to the some of the hit bait purveyors who continue to come up with wackier and wackier stories to justify their existence.



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