Earlier this year on March 25, Apple announced its upcoming TV+ streaming service with a parade of high-powered Hollywood A-listers, including Jennifer Aniston, J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, and Oprah. Details of the new service were sparse, other than it would feature high-quality original content created from some of the aforementioned creative minds.
It was clear that Apple was no longer tip-toeing into the deep waters of original content production, but was rather looking to make a splash. The company also beefed up it's production chops, adding former Sony executives Jamie Erlicht and Zach Van Amburg--best known for Breaking Bad--to head up the effort.
Now, in a wide-ranging interview over the weekend with The Sunday Times, Eddy Cue, Apple's VP of Services, shared thoughts about Apple's services and future plans for the Apple TV+ service that was announced earlier this year.
It was one particular comment from Cue that I found most interesting, and most enlightening as to how Apple ultimately plans to differentiate TV+ from it's most obvious competitor, Netflix.
"Their motto is to create a lot of content so there's always something for you to watch, and it's working really well. There's nothing wrong with that model, but it's not our model," says Cue.
Apple obviously recognizes that it won't be able to compete against the sheer amount of content that Netflix produces, so it isn't even going to try. Which, honestly, is really smart. One of the things Apple has always done well is define its own competitive terms.
The company rarely tries to be "better" at someone else's game, but writes its own rules that highlight the strengths of whatever it does best. It's the living manifestation of the "Think Different" slogan.
When it introduced the original iMac, it wasn't trying to make the most powerful new computer, or make it work with everything else. The goal was to design a computer that was accessible to people who didn't use computers, so it featured a colorful translucent shell, and a handle that invited you to touch.
In fact, in the interview, Cue said "We weren't the first smartphone ever made. We weren't the first computer ever made. We weren't the first tablet ever made. We try to be the best, and we don't have to be the first to be the best."
This is a great lesson, especially in the world of technology where most products available are simply a copy of someone else's design. There is room for different. It's not that Apple isn't trying to be the best, they're simply trying to be the best at something different than its competitors.
While Disney's new streaming service will clearly be built upon its enormous library of existing content, and Netflix aims to provide access to both huge amounts of original as well as third-party TV shows and movies, Apple is going for quality over quantity.
Which is especially smart when it realizes that producing original content isn't its expertise--at least not yet. Trying to push hundreds of shows out the door would likely mean that Apple TV+ would have lots of mediocre choices, but no compelling reason to pay $10 per month.
Apple says that it will introduce new content every month, and the announced shows all appear to be top-notch. In fact, in some ways, Apple's most direct competitor to its streaming service probably isn't Netflix, Disney, or Amazon Prime Video. It's HBO.
With the majority of the company's sales and profits coming from iPhone sales (which have certainly begun to slow), Apple TV+ represents an even more important shift in two ways.
More content means more things to do on an iPhone, or iPad, or Apple TV, which is why at the same announcement back in March, the company introduced a News subscription service as well. Apple is clearly preparing for a day when iPhones aren't the biggest profit center, while at the same time trying to provide new and compelling reasons to buy one of the company's devices.
Whether Apple TV+ is the next big thing is hard to tell, but I have no doubt that it will be different.