As much as Google were prefer everything mobile be within a Chrome browser tab, it’s not. We live in the golden age of applications; nearly 3-million apps between Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store combined. Apps are not just the future, the future is here now. Apps rule.
Nowhere is that more clear than in Apple’s anemic streaming television efforts. Where the company succeeded in reshaping the music industry to move from CDs to downloads, Apple has utterly failed to replicate the same success in the television industry.
Or, has it?
Check out the list of streaming television apps on Apple TV. Most– but, importantly, not all– of the TV networks have apps which also require a cable TV account. Also importantly, there is a growing trend where television networks have their own apps and their own corresponding monthly subscription service which effectively creates a barrier to entry for an Apple streaming television service.
CBS All Access for iOS has a $6.00 per month subscription price, while the CBS-owned Showtime premium channel service is $11.00 per month, and CBS claims to have more than 2-million subscribers. Do the math. $6-million per month plus $11-million per month is $17-million per month which translates to an online revenue stream in excess of $200-million.
In the not-to-distant past it seemed as if television networks needed Apple more than Apple needed TV. That remains partly true, but mostly because there is not iPhone-like revenue and profits to be made by Apple in a streaming television service package. Even that doesn’t matter as long as there are network television apps that stream content to Apple’s customers.
CBS and other television networks are not likely to develop their own smartphones or tablets, but they will remain happy to publish apps that move their content– and the subscription services that pay for it all– onto whatever hardware has enough customers to make it worthwhile.
There is no question that Apple has both the technology chops, the streaming facilities and bandwidth, the customer base, and the money to create an Apple-branded streaming television service. So, why hasn’t Apple bit the bullet and pulled the trigger (I found a mixed metaphor coupon this weekend)?
Money. There’s not enough money in it for yet another intermediary like the cable TV companies. Apple has the installed base of eager customers, yes, but competing with cable TV whereby the same company also provides their customer base with internet access is fraught with peril. Apple could un-bundle the typical cable TV offerings but a skinny bundle also means skinny profits.
Instead, streaming television applications have cut off Apple’s plans at the knees. With their own apps, content providers and television networks don’t need an Apple streaming television service to push their content because they have or will get those customers anyway.
Blame it all on Apple’s golden age of mobile apps.