What’s the Point of Apple TV Hardware?

August 10, 2021

What’s the Point of Apple TV Hardware?:

With Apple TV+ available on everything now, anyone can enjoy the content, yes… But every other streaming box kinda sucks in other ways, and the Apple TV box still is the best experience I’ve had with a set-top device. Others capture your data, throw ads at you, have horrible interfaces… Whereas Apple TV really just gets out of your way.

Speaking of Mark Gurman, his Power On newsletter continues to be an excellent read. His main topic this week argues that Apple TV (hardware) is “mostly pointless”:

Most importantly, buying an Apple TV no longer gives users a
content advantage. We are in the age of streaming services like
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, and business models have
shifted so that every service is available on every device — phones, tablets, TV sets, streaming sticks and game consoles.

Apple, known for its closed ecosystem, is even embracing the shift
by offering many services on smart TVs and boxes made by
competitors. […] That made the Apple TV a mostly pointless
accessory, and consumers seem to agree: 2020 data from Strategy
found that the Apple TV holds 2% of the streaming
device market.

The product isn’t without its benefits, though, for the Apple
ecosystem’s most loyal users. Integration with HomeKit, Fitness+,
AirPods and the iOS remote app is useful. The new remote control
and faster chip in this year’s version are definite improvements,
and the box is getting SharePlay and Spatial Audio support later
this year. Still, I don’t see these enhancements moving the needle
for most people.

I’d argue that Apple TV is a quintessential Apple product: its primary point is to deliver a superior user experience for those who care and are willing to pay a premium for it. If you look only at “content” there’s little reason to buy an iPhone or Mac or iPad, either. The Mac in particular seems an apt comparison. The reason to buy a Mac instead of a PC isn’t that the Mac can do things PCs can’t, but that what you do on a Mac is delivered through a superior experience. That’s Apple TV, too — especially now that Apple is shipping a good remote control. For a lot of us, it clearly delivers a superior and more private user experience that is worth paying a premium for.

2 percent market share is really low, no question about it, but if you look at those market share numbers from Strategy Analytics, no TV platform has a dominant position. It’s a remarkably diverse market, with no platform over 12 percent share. And Apple’s market share isn’t just any random 2 percent of the market, it’s 2 percent at the very high end of the market. It’s a premium product for Apple’s core customer base.

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