In the few days since the my piece on Apple as a content creator first appeared on Mashable, there’s been some discussion about it on Twitter and a piece written by Ryan Lawler on GigaOm that addresses Apple’s iTV strategy.  Ryan raises some good points about the potential for content creators to develop apps that add value on top of their content across iOS platform (and a theoretical iTV) and the timing being right with content creators beginning to embrace such a strategy.

Given some of the feedback, I want to take a minute to frame the context with which the piece was written.

First, the original title was Making the Case for Apple as a Content Creator.  It was intended to spark discussion about a scenario under which it could make sense for Apple to get into the content creation (facilitation) game.  It was not intended to be incendiary or linkbaitish.

Second, any consideration of the arguments laid out in the article most definitely require suspension of some of our conceptions of Apple as strictly a historical hardware-software player (I could have made this clearer at the front end of the article).  There was a time that Apple, Inc was Apple Computer  and, Apple themselves has demonstrated a willingness to engage in this kind of ‘suspend what we are’ thinking in considering becoming their own cell phone company.  It’s not ‘think outside the box’ it’s ‘there is no box’.

Yes, there are numerous legitimate reasons why Apple wouldn’t get into the content facilitation business, but for the moment allow me to borrow your imagination to consider how it could make sense:

Think of your favorite television series.  Now imagine a world where Apple produces a series of just such compelling quality and it is available exclusively on an Apple TV/iPad/Phone.  Imagine Apple announcing this new series (say, created by Steven Spielberg) at the launch event for the iTV.  Yes, it is difficult to produce content that is compelling.  And, there is a risk that whatever content they produce/facilitate would not be successful.  All I’m suggesting is that readers stretch to consider the considerable upside of exclusive and compelling content that plays across Apple’s device ecosystem.

Ryan suggests that content is not important to compelling consumers to buy a new iTV:

But frankly, I don’t think it’s content deals that will make consumers want to buy the device. Instead, Apple will win in TV the same way it won with the iPhone — by having a compelling platform for app developers.

I’m not convinced.  Given the margins Apple requires for any device it sells, any new TV set will carry a price premium over what is available in the market today (the recent holiday season saw specials for 42” TVs in my local market going for as low as $199).  This means they are starting with an uphill battle in looking to compel consumers to shell out what is likely to be hundreds of dollars more for their TV and I think part of that argument includes new content paradigms (whether or not new content is in place at the exact time of an iTV launch, the arguments laid out stand).

One comment I saw on Twitter suggested people don’t buy specific devices for exclusive access to content.  That’s been true historically, but where is that rule written? :)  If our discussion here is about what is best for Apple, why shouldn’t they press every conceivable advantage, particularly as competitors such as Android continue to breathe down their neck?  And, if Apple is successful with a content play, the consumer wins out with new and compelling content they did not have before.

So, despite what has appeared on Twitter, I am not suggesting that Apple rush out and become the next Netflix tomorrow.  I am merely suggesting that it is a concept that is interesting and multi-faceted and merits further investigation by Apple.  Boy, I would love to be a fly on the wall in their executive conference room for those discussions.


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