Apple’s new TV app is supposed to solve all that complexity by unifying all these fragmented services into a single, searchable system. It even gets mapped to the TV button the Apple TV remote.

I mean, honestly, we can call this courageous, but this is two straight recent hardware introductions that have made major changes to their UI after the fact. The watch's UI was fundamentally changed for watchOS 3. Don't believe me?


The app carousel, heavily promoted in the first release of watchOS, is all but gone. It still exists — there's been no Home screen reinvention on any of Apple's mobile platforms — but the likelihood of ever seeing it on your Apple Watch has diminished to near-zero with watchOS 3.

Instead of the Carousel, you now launch apps from complications and the new Dock, which replaces the Friends screen and Glances in one fell swoop. ...

Apple, too, has embraced the idea that users should have more than one watch face: You can now swipe edge-to-edge between your saved watch faces, each with their own custom complications...

And now you've changed how my Apple TV home button works? What could be more fundamental? That's two swings and misses at UIs. When you're shoehorning a new paradigm into the same hardware that quickly, you missed, man, you missed. (Not saying don't change them, but this isn't like app icons and the iOS home screen.)

It's the broadcast, stupid.

The article at The Verge also does a good job showing why Apple is missing the TV boat:

In the transition from CDs to downloads, Apple led the way and was always two steps ahead of its competitors. In the new streaming media world, Apple always seems like it’s two steps behind. iTunes, once a centerpiece of our media libraries, is now either ignored or openly disliked. And Amazon has popped up as a more capable replacement for movie and TV show rentals. Sling, Sony, and AT&T have figured out ways to release “skinny bundles” of TV channels over the internet.

(I'd argue with the claim that Amazon is better for rentals. I'm not sure that either has a markedly better interface there. But I'm not sure replacing Blockbuster is really key here.)

Look, what Apple did so well for music was to produce better hardware. They mopped Sony's floor with the iPod and iTunes. Would you rather deal with carrying around CDs and tapes, or one miniature hard drive? Would you rather push CDs in and out of your computer's CD tray, or have it all as mp3s on your drive?

iTunes was a quantum leap better than what came before when you were at a computer or on the [pedestrian] go, listing to music. Apple TV is not.

Walkmen from Wikipedia

And it really can't be. What Apple's trying to reinvent with Apple TV isn't really hardware. What they're reinventing is broadcast media.

The iPod didn't smash radio (the seemingly increasing popularity of podcasts excepted, though even that took a decade). The iPod smashed Walkmen. What iTunes smashed wasn't and isn't radio and TV. iTunes smashed physical media.

Media pic from Michelle Carl

The iPhone simply continued the lineage, and, what's more important, made the computer in your pocket personal. That is, the iPhone again reinvented hardware -- the personal computer -- never broadcast media. Jobs' belief that people wanted to own content worked when we were talking records. It didn't work so well when we were talking broadcast media. You can't buy live sporting events (or any live content) from Apple or Amazon. And that's why cable provider "skinny bundles" work.

Aside: You could also extend this to Apple's News app. I'd argue newspapers are a form of broadcast media. The web has taken that over. Apple's hardware advantages haven't done a lot to change the dominance of the usual players on the web with written news, though the move from paper to the web has -- physical media is losing (duh). The means by which we get and consume digital media? That's an easier area for content providers to protect, and a tougher arena for Apple et al to monetize.

The real war for the television screen is for live events. Apple doesn't have a good disruptive strategy there yet. I'm not sure they will.

PS -- TIL (or remembered) that the Apple TV came out the same year as, but months before, the iPhone. It's been a while.

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