An interesting bit of tea leaf reading from Brightcove’s Jeremy Allaire. He hits some points that fed into my bit on The Graph a few weeks ago:
Apple will not anytime soon launch a competitive subscription video product to cable. There are deep structural and contract rights issues that limit their ability to do so, and Apple does not want to buy their way into premium content from top-tier broadcasters who are collectively making hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide from subscriber fees shared from Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs such as Cable, Telco, and Sat TV).
The television industry as it exists now is hard to disrupt due to these contracts, in no small part because those contracts guarantee that everybody’s going to be making money for a while. The most common criticism of my graph boiled down to “the existing revenue stream is heading for a cliff,” but I honestly don’t think that’s how it’s going to play out. Everyone’s favorite example, “Game of Thrones,” may currently be the most pirated TV show, but it’s still getting some of the highest viewing numbers in HBO’s history, and as far as HBO is concerned that’s the number that matters: all of those people watching are paying a monthly flat fee for HBO.
Allaire posits that “you’d purchase and use an Apple TV device and use it in concert with an existing subscription from a TV operator, and access the TV functionality as an app”—basically, what he’s describing is the app console concept.
It’s precisely with this re-conceptualizing of TV in mind that I believe Apple has “cracked the code” on TV. Specifically, Apple sees that TV monitors are just that—high quality A/V rendering devices—and that the real power lies in application platforms and user interaction devices that can easily be brought to bear on those monitors. Rather than putting Apple software directly into the TV, they are bringing your existing Apple devices and applications to the TV set without requiring you to buy a new TV monitor.
Unlike the yoyos at Comcast, Allaire knows what Airplay is—and he knows a lot about online video and mobile apps. (Allaire was one of the original creators of ColdFusion and, later, Macromedia Flash.) I think he’s right on the money with his concept of Apple working with existing television providers rather than trying to replace them—remember, even if you can make the case that Apple disrupted the mobile phone industry, you’re still using your iPhone on a mobile phone network that existed before Apple was in that business. The whole article is worth a read if you’re interested in the field.