Speaking at Code Conference Wednesday night, Apple’s head of online services Eddy Cue took a swipe at the current state of television and presented his take on where the future of that industry lies. According to Cue, Apple TV sales have risen in recent years and over 20 million of the set-top box have been sold to date. Cue says that the device is billion-dollar business now and is expected to continue growing.

However, the Apple TV isn’t a true TV replacement. Cue took a few moments to point out just how much using TV “sucks” and bemoan the current range of DVR devices. He even went so far as to compare current technology with the VCRs of a bygone era—and he’s not wrong. Cue cited drawbacks such as having to remember to set a recording or trying to manage storage on the recorder as reasons on-demand streaming through the Apple TV is growing in popularity.

That’s not to say he’s especially fond of today’s on-demand systems either, though. Not only did Cue have sharp criticisms for modern recording tech, he even jabbed at the streaming experience on the iPad, noting that the process of authenticating with a cable provider to access streaming content is less-than-ideal. So what’s his solution?

Unfortunately he doesn’t have one just yet. Cue says the TV landscape is a “complicated issue” due to the lack of universal standards between regions in the United States, let alone globally. Content rights, goverment regulations, the sheer number of companies involved in the production and distribution process, and a host of other issues have prevented the creation of a solid, user-friendly TV platform. For now, Cue says, the Apple TV “will continue to evolve” as the company continues to “improv[e] the experience.”

Jimmy Iovine, who officially joined Apple today as the company announced a $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, noted that he has no interest in creating content for Apple or anyone else. Instead, he’s focusing his efforts on perfecting content distribution and curation.

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9 Responses to “Cue: The current TV experience “sucks,” billion-dollar Apple TV business will get bigger this year”

  1. Derek Huey says:

    Well. He’s not wrong.

    This has me pretty excited to see what Apple has in store for us. However, it is preventing me from jumping up to a 1080p AppleTV, so hopefully we’ll hear about something new next week.


  2. I was certainly hoping Apple would be getting some exclusive content. If Iovine isn’t interested in doing so, then maybe Dr. Dre will. I would think getting exclusive content would be great for Apple. It seems to be working out quite well for Netflix and Amazon, so it could certainly work for Apple.

    I’m just guessing but it seems Apple may have sold more AppleTVs than Roku sold of all of their streaming boxes.


  3. Jason Yap says:

    I would love it if AppleTV could integrate with my cable provider, DirecTV in my case, and allow me to stream it anywhere like Slingbox allows and then offer Apple exclusives as well as the whole iTunes catalog it currently provides.


  4. stickyicky97 says:

    I just wish Apple would revamp the UI, add siri voice control, and an App store. They don’t need to “figure out” the TV portion just yet………….but it does eventually need to integrate with cable providers content.


  5. Zack Anton says:

    For me, the search for Film on Apple TV is so not what Apple standards. I personally love Celluloid Film discovery app, it streams non stop trailers via Airplay till I see a movie that I like. Here is a link to it:


  6. Tyler Malin says:

    If Apple is going to get into the spotify comp / subscription music business – great, don’t understand why they need Beats to do that, but regardless the prospect isn’t very compelling to me as a consumer. If Apple wants to make some big waves I suggest they do a 2 for 1 subscription model (they can deal with sub costs as a loss leader anyway) – they should package a subscription music service AND a subscription video service and be spotify + netflix – now that is a value proposition I think few could argue with :)


  7. Paul Kerr says:

    It is hard to overstate how much cable operators want to be the only link to licensed channels for their customers. Legally this could be forced to change by requiring a standard interface and billing to make it easy to compare providers’ services apples-to-apples and swap out providers. That’s not happening.

    Apple could go after the TV delivery market incrementally. Provide an experience where they make over-the-air channels available on demand, without requiring users to do their own local recording, which could fit within the US ‘fair use’ definition. They’d need to license access to the channel feed for best service, but that’s a good thing in that it helps support local news, weather and other local programming.

    From there they could gradually expand the service, rolling the various channels already available on Apple TV into the new interface. Providers would still own the commercial time for their shows, so it wouldn’t interfere with that source of their revenues.

    Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Apple just needs to get started with OTA channels, and the rest follow in those footsteps, eventually. Confucius didn’t mention, but could have, that a thousand-mile journey takes a lot of steps and a long time.