Published on August 24th, 2017 | by Brad Gibson


Opinion: Apple TV market share means little to Apple

On the heels of our BESTAppleTV story on Apple’s drop in the installed base of streaming media players, I think it’s important to put into perspective the importance of market share to Apple. Or should I say the lack thereof?

Never in the history of my dealing with Apple as a journalist has the company ever talked religiously about market share of any product. Sure, you’ll see them sing their accolades of a product if they are outright number one, as any company would. But even then, you never hear Apple use it as a selling point. To them, it’s more about compelling consumers to buy their products as real solutions and offering them reasons for doing so.

That in itself has been one of the problems for Apple and Apple TV. Since its early days when Steve Jobs called it “a hobby,” Apple has never really been on the forefront of making Apple TV cutting edge in its technology or feature set. As harsh as it sounds, Apple has always been a ‘follow-Roku’ imitator and not felt compelled to lead in this space. Apple will tell you differently. I’ll tell you their actions speak louder than words.

Let’s be honest about it, until tvOS and the fourth-generation Apple TV, there weren’t many positives that Apple could say they were ‘ahead of the curve’ in streaming media players. It’s taken us 10 years to get here and I can’t remember one Apple TV hardware feature Roku hadn’t already done. Many believe that has hurt Apple’s market share in streaming media players.

One of the biggest areas that prevent them from being as competitive is price and that’s a no-brainer. But Apple doesn’t want to be competitive in that space. Profit margin is ingrained in Apple’s DNA and unlike its competition that will sell a Roku Streaming Stick for $40 and make a profit of around 18% or less, Apple isn’t interested in anything less than 30% and various sources have confirmed to me it’s making at least that on Apple TV. Profit is king to Apple, not market share.

Market share doesn’t necessarily mean a strong profit and at the end of the day that doesn’t pay the bills. Forget about Apple market share on Apple TV. This company is interested in the long game, not the short run sprint. The debate over whether Roku or Amazon’s streaming media player strategy is profitable long term is very different than Apple’s. You can completely criticize Apple for what they have and have not done to further Apple TV on a more robust scale. It will be some time before we know which strategy is a success.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. 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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