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Published on November 13th, 2017 | by Brad Gibson


Opinion: Apple’s TV strategy losing hearts and minds

Over the past few months, one particular streaming device maker has been kicking ass and taking names when it comes to getting their streaming operating system built into televisions. To put it bluntly, that name is NOT Apple.

Instead, it is Roku, Yes, the streaming media maker that has been innovating not just in its standalone products, but in improving its OS to be built directly into the TVs we use every day.

Just today Roku announced its technology will be built into TVs from Funai Electric, the company behind Philips TVs and will ship beginning next year.

The deal is not the first. Not by a long shot. In the last year, Roku has been licensing its smart TV platform to TV original equipment manufacturers (or OEMs) worldwide. TCL, Hisense, (the third and fourth best-selling TV brands, respectively, in the world, based on market share) RCA, Sharp, and Hitachi are all now Roku-ready in many of their models. Score…Roku 6. Apple 0.

Put these deals together with the fact that Roku is the number one selling streaming media device worldwide, comes out with multiple new models in different price ranges every October, is now a public held company with a soaring stock price (now at $36 a share, a $16 jump since November 8th), and is now expanding its reach into South America and parts of Europe like a swarm of locusts, and you get the picture of a company that’s not resting on its laurels.

In stark contrast, Apple is doing nothing even remotely matching Roku in its push to expand its operating system, much less its hardware. It’s not built into one TV and there’s no indication the company is even planning such a strategy. Roku is kicking their butt when it comes to expanding its core (repeat…core) product, that being the OS and their hardware.

Now, we have no real idea why Apple isn’t expanding its reach with tvOS. The reason is Apple refuses to talk about it. As a result, you have to assume it has no such strategy.

While actions speak louder than words, we’re not getting much action there either. More than two years since its debut, tvOS hasn’t grown into the platform iOS for iPhone and iPad has. It’s stagnant. It’s not innovative. A leader in this space Apple is not.

It is not easy for me to say these things about Apple and Apple TV when this website clearly is all about both, but it’s starting to become a serious issue. While it makes business sense to concentrate on your best-selling product – the iPhone – it shows a lack of direction and innovation in another area that has seen little progress.

I know some people still call the Apple TV a “hobby” as the late and former CEO Steve Jobs once did. They have good reason to. In 2010, Jobs told journalist Walt Mossberg there was no “viable go-to-market strategy” for the sector. It doesn’t appear from Apple’s current strategy that they have found the answer even seven years later.

You can say Apple is making progress on the TV front, but this is not about creating TV content like a show with Resse Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. That is content that will be on all three Apple OS platforms. This is about expanding the universe of Apple TV and tvOS and the fact is it’s not happening and one of their competitors is looking at Apple in their rearview mirror.

I could sit here and rattle off a list of things Apple needs to do to grow the platform. We’ve all heard many of them before from multiple Apple TV models ranging from $49 to $200, to partnering with TV manufacturers to build in tvOS. Essentially I’m talking about all the things Roku is doing and succeeding in. The fact is we haven’t seen these things happen at Apple and we have no strong indication from ‘the mouth of babes’ what their strategy is and/or long-term vision.

All the while Roku is staying fresh and reaping the benefits. On the other hand, Apple and Apple TV are rotting on the vine. It’s time for a real vision and not just a new box with a few tweaks here and there. Apple CEO Tim Cook needs to deliver a strong solution in 2018 that doesn’t only copy Roku but innovates.

Even current Apple TV owners are wondering if their investment was a good one with many posting to online message boards of their confusion on where Apple is going with the platform. If you’re losing the interest of the people who already have an Apple TV box, then your problems are even more dismal.

I don’t want TV shows. I want hardware that stays on the cutting edge. Tim Cook…If you’d spend just a little more time on making tvOS and Apple TV as cutting edge as you do with your iPhone X, you’d reap the benefits in multiple ways and please your customers.

We’re waiting.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as,,,, and He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the AOL, the BBC, Associated Press, and United Press International.

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