The future of Apple is playing well with others


Apple’s not known for being the most outward-looking organization. For much of its existence, it’s seemed to project an aura of indifference—verging on ignorance—of what goes on outside its walls. That’s in large part by design: Apple has always had a carefully cultivated veneer of being in a league of its own, eschewing any need to pay attention to what its would-be rivals were up to.

Even when it has deigned to work with others, Apple generally presented an attitude of doing this as a favor to its partners, bestowing some small iota of the Apple brand and mojo upon them. (Remember its deals with Motorola and HP in the 2000s?) There’s no better example than porting iTunes to Windows—arguably one of the best business decisions Apple made, since it brought the iPod to scads of PC users—a move that Steve Jobs famously, if not decorously, described as “giving a glass of ice water to someone in hell.”

But there are signs that Apple’s attitude in dealing with partners is evolving, thanks to one key word: services. The Apple of today is betting big on services for its future, and in many cases those services mean relying on (or at least, taking advantage of) partnerships with other companies—even putative rivals.

The AirPlay’s the thing

This past week’s Consumer Electronics Show is a perfect case in point. Apple’s partnership with a quartet of popular TV manufacturers will bring AirPlay 2 to a large chunk of the TV market, as well as, for the first time, allowing access to iTunes video content from a non-Apple device—from the company’s chief smartphone rival Samsung, to boot!

apple tv shows 2018Apple

For Apple’s upcoming video streaming service to succeed, it needs to be available on more than just Apple devices.

Why would Cupertino do this? Look no further than Apple’s forthcoming video-streaming service. If the future of Apple’s businesses includes a big contribution from services, then it behooves the company to have its services available on as many platforms as possible. In the past, Apple’s primarily used services as a way to drive its more profitable hardware sales, but the company has apparently awakened to the virtues of recurring revenue.

Moreover, if the alternative is to tell consumers “You can watch these great new shows on your Macs and iOS devices, but if you want it on your big screen you’ll have to pay $180 for this specific set-top box, on top of however much you spent on your TV, which yes, has its own streaming apps, just not ours,” well, it’s not hard to imagine that they may balk at signing up for Apple’s TV service.

But if one could easily watch Apple’s video content on their existing smart TV via an app, or failing that, via AirPlay to their TV then that’s a lot more folks who just became potential customers

HomeKit is where the heart is

Smart home tech has to date been a field that seemed primarily targeted at the nerdy among us, but the proliferation of options like smart bulbs, smart locks, and smart appliances have definitely started to make their way into the mainstream, albeit gradually.

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