Mark Gurman in a newsletter for Bloomberg:
We’re in the middle of a holiday gifting season during a pandemic that’s caused television viewership to surge. The Apple TV should be having a moment. It’s not.
The current iteration of Apple’s television set-top product has roots in the mid-2010s, when the urgent priority for Apple in its post-Steve Jobs era was boosting its presence in the living room. That brought us a revamped Apple TV in 2015 that included an App Store, a remote with touch controls, gaming functionality and deep integration with the Apple ecosystem.
It really is pretty crazy that given how much time and money Apple is pouring into Apple TV+, the service, that their strategy for the hardware side of the equation, normally their bread and butter, is so lacking. But it’s even crazier in our pandemic times where seemingly everyone needs a solution that Apple has long offered — a streaming set top box, which was originally unveiled a few months before the iPhone! — Apple missed the boat so badly.
Obviously, they couldn’t have known about the pandemic. (Though they had all the pieces in place for a perfect product for this world ahead of time and did nothing with it.) But the reality is that the Apple TV device has been in a strange state for years. I put it that way because it’s not that the Apple TV is bad — I actually think it’s pretty good, I use it every day. But the remote is awful and it’s way too expensive for what it is. Yes, yes, you could say that about every Apple product. But while the device may be pretty good, it’s not so much better than everything else that the premium is warranted. In fact, in many ways it’s now behind.
And that’s weird because it runs a variant of iOS and runs on Apple’s own chips. Again, Apple should own this world with a product that is so much better than everyone else’s. And they actually had a first-mover advantage, of sorts. And they just keep being slightly off in execution, more than slightly off in pricing, and oddly off in iteration.
Maybe that changes in 2021, with the reports about Apple finally taking gaming seriously on the device — again, something they should be doing given their chips and iOS — and a new remote, but it also should have changed in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and certainly in 2020. And yet…