Apple TV+’s Biggest Problem

The following article about Apple TV+ and what is or isn’t wrong with it has gotten us thinking. Naturally, this being TVWriter™ and all, what we’re thinking about clearly isn’t unthinkable, but it sure feels unsolveable. Is the biggest problem of TV itself simply that it isn’t really TV anymore.

Oh well.

by Alex Cranz

Apple has had a long slow crawl from hardware maker to entertainment service provider. First, there was iTunes and selling music online, then movies and TV shows. Later came Apple Music, a streaming service provided for a monthly fee, and earlier this year there was News+, a news service… provided for a monthly fee. Now Apple’s finally getting around to a streaming TV service, TV+. For $5 a month, you’ll get a handful of shows that a lot of people are talking about. You’ll also get insight into the weird disconnect at the heart of Apple’s move from hardware and software to services.

Apple TV+ is a pretty good deal if you like more than one of the shows available on the platform. But so far, Apple’s lineup is only okay, the TV app user interface is confusing, and its recommendation algorithm might give you more privacy but seriously hampers usability. What’s worse is, sometimes it feels like Apple is sacrificing its anti-ads bona fides just to put mediocre TV in front of you.

Apple clearly wants to be everything to everyone. It wants to be the brand you go to for your work computer and your personal phone and all your music, news, and other entertainment. That’s not surprising. Google and Amazon have the same plan—if different approaches. Even Netflix is working hard to own your eyeballs every free moment. What’s different is that Apple has to balance owning your time with a commitment to privacy that’s been a major selling point for the company in the last few years. While Google, and to a lesser extent Amazon and the rest, monetize your private data, Apple has insisted on protecting and anonymizing your data.

Most companies are relying on user data to inform what shows they greenlight and which shows they recommend to which users. Apple’s reluctance to maintain that data immediately puts its shows in a very odd place….

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