Sunday, 15 June 2008

Since when did the four-legged chair become a three-legged stool?

“We've got two strong legs on our chair today — we have the Mac business, which is a $10 billion business, and music, our iPod and iTunes business, which is $10 billion. We hope the iPhone is the third leg on our chair, and maybe one day Apple TV will be the fourth leg.” 
Steve Jobs, in USA Today

Apple TV Take Two has been out in the wild for a while now, and what a force for good it truly is. With the recent European launch of movie rentals, and the massive expansion of TV shows on iTunes in the UK, even users on this side of the pond can finally get the benefit.

Trouble is that despite Apple’s excellent efforts with Take Two, they clearly don’t have much interest in promoting the service. Competitors in the UK, such as BT Vision, Virgin Media and Sky are spending big bucks on advertising. Apple TV is conspicuous by its absence. And this comes at a critical time - the UK is about to switch off analogue terrestrial TV, in favor of digital. Consumers are out there right now, shopping for set-top boxes. Many of the PVRs, DTRs and IPTVs that they may purchase will take them off the market for subsequently acquiring an Apple TV. It’s now or never - where is Apple?

Apple’s US-centric focus is in part to blame. Whilst Virgin Media are doing an excellent job in leveraging their (bizarre) exclusivity with the BBC iPlayer, Apple has failed to do a similar deal - despite the British-broadcast-monopolist’s publicly professed interest in the platform.

At last week’s keynote, Steve Jobs showed us a three legged stool, where once there had been a chair. The stool has three legs, representing their three businesses (Mac, iPhone and Music). There once was talk of a four-legged chair, with Apple TV as the fourth leg. And yet, Apple TV is nearly invisible on, and Apple appears to be making no effort to hold their own against substantial advertising investment from their competitors. Historically, this area of marketing has been one of Apple’s strengths.

Even more bizarrely, the UK Apple TV website has been broken for days. Is no one managing this division of the company? Did Apple just rip off the fourth leg of their chair and hurl it away, deciding that a stool would do just as well?


  1. The BBC's deal with Virgin is in no way exclusive - that's why BT and Tiscali have similar deals, and indeed Apple could have for Apple TV if they had any interest.

    But they don't.

    Otherwise spot on. Apple TV will continue to flounder until it gets proper resource thrown at it for international markets (and a tuner for recording broadcasts).

  2. Agreed, it's (presumably) not an exclusive deal between Virgin Media and the BBC. Nonetheless, to my knowledge, Virgin Media are currently the only On Demand service to distribute iPlayer content. I can't see any evidence of iPlayer on the Tiscali or BTVision sites - although obviously, you could watch the web-based iPlayer service via their broadband services (as long as you have a Windows PC).

  3. Virgin are the only VOD provider - period
    The killer app

  4. The Three legged chair was used because it would not rock or wobble on uneven floors.