“I think the challenge that Apple has here is it’s really hard to become the front end when you don’t have the services that people watch,” Hargreaves said. “And without Netflix and Amazon … as part of that app, I don’t think anybody’s going to tune in.”
Apple on Thursday revealed a new app, TV, that works across multiple devices. A TV Guide-like app for streaming, it aggregates shows from multiple service providers into a single app, making them searchable by Siri, and enabling recommendations from across users’ different subscriptions.
While it solves Apple TV issues like finding live sports games, it has a major downside: It does not aggregate Netflix or Amazon shows from the respective apps, Hargreaves said, and those services are already the home screen for a significant number of users.
“Given where we are now, there’s still time for them to have an effective video strategy,” Hargreaves said. “It just has to be something different. It has to be their own service and something with scale.”
The new app comes as functions like Siri and iMessage increasingly provide an alternative to opening individual apps on other Apple devices. But unlike when Apple released the iPod along with iTunes, or the App Store with iPhone, Hargreaves said he doesn’t see Apple TV as meaningfully different than other hardware devices.
“The challenge with the TV box is it’s really a commodity business,” Hargreaves said.”I would argue that their box is no better, and maybe even worse in some cases, than a Roku.”
In a recent conference call with investors, Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the company’s content strategy, after The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had approached Time Warner earlier this year.
“I would confirm that television has intense interest with me and many other people here,” Cook said. “In terms of owning content and creating content, we have started focusing on some original content … we’ve got a few things going there. I think it’s a good opportunity for us. It is an area that we’re focused on.”
Any success in video “would be upside” for Apple, Hargreaves said. But in a research note, he wrote their current strategy needs a “reboot.”
“I find it pretty funny how many people have been calling for a-la-carte TV, including [Apple CEO] Tim Cook, and are now wanting all those apps to be put back together into one point of interaction, or ‘guide,'” Hargreaves wrote. “The big cable bundle has been successful for a reason.”