Apple's rumored streaming service

Apple’s magic formula for success has been to find a technology sector where the idea is great, but the technology is hard to use. Apple then wins by coming out with a product that’s easy to use.

TV is certainly ripe for that kind of disruption; cable and streaming services are complicated and confusing.

But one of the main reasons they are complicated and confusing is that there are so many of them, and coming out with one more, even from Apple, is just going to make that worse.

Suggested by this article by a colleague:

That’s a good description of a formula Apple has used with success for many of its devices. Services are much more varied. There are some services that arguably follow this model (the App Store, iTunes Store, and Apple Pay come to mind).

However, a lot of Apple’s existing cloud services don’t really fit this model. For instance, I wouldn’t really say that Apple Music, iCloud, Apple Maps, or Apple Books were launched into sectors where existing products were hard to use or are that much easier to use than Spotify, Dropbox, Google Maps, or Amazon Kindle are. These services seem to be built on the formula, “take something a third party is doing, develop our own version, integrate it into our OS, hardware, billing, etc.” That seems to be what Apple is planning for the TV service.

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I sort of fear we are running headlong into a problem that we were trying to get rid of in the beginning: we all wanted to cut the cable cord and have more choice about what we were consuming, and being able to consume it on demand. But now the landscape is diversified with so many different services, that I feel like I’m once again paying for content from a multitude of service providers but enjoying very few things.


Apple is looking for new revenue streams now that the iPhone is peaking and services Is a future they, and everyone else, is seeking these days. They have done a good job, IMO, with music, and the HomePod is a fine piece of hardware like most of what they sell.

Siri, on the other hand, is a distant third in the digital assistant race. And iCloud is still missing many features offered by Dropbox and Google.

Apple’s services seem “bolted on”. Like they are doing things that are not in their DNA. Perhaps that is only because they are still relatively new to the services game.

It will be interesting to see what they present on Monday.

How successful has Apple been in those areas, though? I’d argue that Spotify, Google Maps and Amazon Kindle, at least, have beaten Apple precisely because Apple doesn’t differentiate beyond those services; Apple doesn’t offer anything hugely better than the incumbents.

And Dropbox itself seems to be having trouble compared with Google Drive, which offers document and file storage combined with document editing and collaboration.

I think the whole point of Apple’s TV app is to make all of these streaming services less confusing by organizing and commoditizing them, just like they did with video sales in iTunes. The difference this time is they are (presumably) selling some of the content themselves, too. I think their new service will be just another option in the TV app.

I don’t know how good they are at production, but selling/providing media has been a big part of Apple for so long that I am confident they’ll do well at this. Even little things like the quality of the articles and art in the iOS and Mac App Stores are positive signs that they can do this, to me.

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I’m not sure I’d say Spotify has beaten Apple Music (at least in the US)…Apple has tons of growth and started years after Spotify. I know Spotify has more subscribers, especially internationally, but again I’d point to how many years of a head start Spotify got.

Which also ties into Maps. How are we defining Google beating Apple? Anecdotally people tend to love Google’s accuracy and search. But Apple started years after, following the breakup between the two. I’d say for many, Apple Maps is on par. If you are comparing installed devices then Apple will never win since there are more Android phones, but that doesn’t mean Google beat Apple.

I’d agree Amazon has beaten Apple, but primarily (again) because they had an early entry/leg up COMBINED with the fact they have e-ink readers and are on every platform.

So all these companies may be in the lead by subscriber/user, but that doesn’t mean Apple is beaten. They started later and are seeing very healthy increase in services revenue due in large part to Apple Music, I’d bet (and covering their paltry storage offerings).

Apple does differentiate by trying to bake in their service to the OS more. Time will tell how some of the antitrust cases will change that.