The click-baitiness of Mark Gurman’s much-linked piece today — titled alternately “Apple’s TV Box Is Now Mostly Pointless” and “Why Should I Buy an Apple TV Instead of Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast?” — is quickly given away when he writes: “In recent years, the Apple TV has become a less obvious purchase for many Apple fans and content junkies.”
Is it “a less obvious purchase” or “pointless”? Or is it indeed “useful,” as per this later line:
“Integration with HomeKit, Fitness+, AirPods and the iOS remote app is useful.”
But for the sake of argument, I’ll assume he really does believe the Apple TV is “pointless,” and I’ll boil down his argument into what I see as his three main points, paraphrased by me.
1. The Apple TV is pointless because you can now watch Netflix on your phone.
Most people still enjoy watching content on their TV. Unless you already have a streaming device, the Apple TV is “pointful” in that it will let you do just that.
Is it the cheapest thing that will allow you to watch content on your TV? No. But it’s not any less valuable because there’s a Hulu iOS app.
(Oddly, Gurman says this is the “most important” point.)
2. The Apple TV is pointless because its apps are no good.
This has mostly been the case for a long time, but has also been true of every other streaming device that I know of. Chromecast now has Stadia, I suppose, but if you are serious about gaming in the first place, you’re probably watching Netflix on an Xbox or Playstation anyway.
Not to mention Apple Arcade, whose quality is admittedly spotty but by no means worthless (Fantasian, Beyond a Steel Sky, The Pathless, Crossy Road Castle, etc. are all great games)
(A bit of trivia: some versions of Roku shipped with Angry Birds and remotes with “A” and “B” buttons.)
What types of apps other than games might he be referring to? Excel?
3. The Apple TV is pointless because it’s more expensive than its competitors.
Price alone can’t make a thing pointless. It can make it less attractive to consumers, but then perhaps most astonishingly Gurman gives this stat:
That made the Apple TV a mostly pointless accessory, and consumers seem to agree: 2020 data from Strategy Analytics found that the Apple TV holds 2% of the streaming device market.
He fails to mention that the report he’s linking to places the other commonly known streaming devices at 3% (Roku), 3% (Google/Chromecast), and 5% (Amazon). Occupying the top 3 spots in the “streaming device market” are TVs — Samsung, Sony, LG, Hisense, and TCL — for a total of 44% of the entire market.
It’s not the Apple TV specifically that consumers are rejecting; it’s dedicated streaming boxes, period. And despite being roughly four times as expensive as its four most obvious competitors, the Apple TV carries 15% of the market share among them.
The Apple TV doesn’t have to be for everybody. If it’s making profits for Apple and its users are happy, that’s just fine.