How will Steve Jobs’ resignation affect the Apple TV?

Aug 27, 2011
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How will Steve Jobs’ resignation affect the Apple TV?

Much of the talk surrounding Steve Jobs’ decision to resign as CEO of Apple and assume the role of chairman of the company’s board of directors has centered on the iPhone maker’s financial performance and future in the mobile market.

To some extent, that’s understandable. Shareholders care more about Apple’s financial performance than anything else. And the only way for the company to maintain its strong financial picture is to continue to deliver outstanding mobile products, like the iPhone and iPad, that people actually want to buy.

But as I’ve noted on SlashGear before, I care most about being entertained in the living room. Whether it’s watching movies, playing video games, or just relaxing and surfing the Web with my home-theater PC, the living room is the central hub for much of my life. And a key component in that hub is the Apple TV.

Realizing that, I’m most concerned about how the Apple TV will be affected now that Tim Cook has taken over as CEO of Apple and Steve Jobs has moved on to the board.

If you remember, the Apple TV has long been called the “hobby” both in and out of Cupertino. When Apple unveiled the latest version of the device last year, the company said that the all-streaming platform was no longer just a hobby, but most of us who own it realize that it really is. A few updates aside, Apple has simply allowed the box to sit on store shelves without mentioning why the average consumer should buy it.

[aquote]I've wondered if it was Steve Jobs that didn't give the Apple TV much importance[/aquote]

Through it all, I’ve wondered if it was Steve Jobs that didn’t want to give the Apple TV too much importance in the company’s product mix or someone else. I suppose in the next several months, we’ll find out.

The way I see it, the Apple TV’s future can go one of two ways. On one hand, Cook might see the device as a possible retail juggernaut at some point in the future and enlist the help of Apple’s staff to develop a top-notch successor that helps the company score big in the home-entertainment market. But on the other hand, Cook might simply discontinue the device, saying that it doesn’t fall in line with Apple’s focus right now.

As far as I’m concerned, the smart move for Apple would be to double down on the Apple TV. The future of entertainment in the living room will revolve around streaming services. Netflix and Amazon understand that. Even Apple seems to get that. But none of the companies have done enough to solidify their positions in that space.

For Apple, that should be an indicator of what it needs to do. The company has long been able to find industries that have no distinct leader and take the throne itself. By the look of things, it can do the same in the home-entertainment space, thanks to the Apple TV.

But first, Tim Cook needs to have faith in the device, and believe that the Apple TV can really be a benchmark in the living room. If he does, there’s no telling what the Apple TV can become. But if he doesn’t, there’s no telling how quickly it will fail as another forward-thinking competitor delivers what Apple should have long ago.


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