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back to article Oi, Apple, stick to phones, forget about TV - Time Warner CEO

Time Warner Cable CEO Jeff Bewkes has subtly mocked Apple's ambitions to conquer the TV biz by describing the iPhone maker as a "great device company". At the Ignition conference organised by Business Insider, Bewkes was asked whether Apple should make a television set and replied: "I hope they do." "They bring good interface …

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And yet loads of films/tv-series programs are available via itunes.

Go figure.

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Just trying to protect their balliwick

Yet another industry not wanting to move with the times. Gone are the days they can simply control all their media forever. People want to get their content in a convenient and simple way, through devices that they want. Companies like this are stuck in the past.

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Re: Just trying to protect their balliwick

Of course they're trying to protect themselves. It's not in content provider's interests to allow Apple, Amazon, Google or any other service gain the upper hand because who wants to deal with a monopoly? It's better to have competing services since the risk is spread out and they can be played off against each other.

That said, neither the service or content providers are playing fair by consumers. The prices of movies and shows and books are virtually identical from one service to another due to contracts that prevent content from being sold cheaper on another service than it is on the one the contract covers. So there are lots of vertical markets but no actual competition, just a land grab as services try to lock more users into their own service than other ones. And of course you can't take your content with you if you leave either.

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Re: Just trying to protect their balliwick

"Yet another industry not wanting to move with the times. Gone are the days they can simply control all their media forever. People want to get their content in a convenient and simple way, through devices that they want. Companies like this are stuck in the past."

The funny thing is that when read this I couldn't make out if you were talking about Apple or Time Warner...

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Re: Just trying to protect their balliwick

The prices of movies and shows and books are virtually identical from one service to another due to contracts that prevent content from being sold cheaper on another service than it is on the one the contract covers.

Clauses like that should be made illegal, a company that insists on (and gets) such a clause has become too big - Amazon is such a company.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just trying to protect their balliwick

Exactly right. But personally I feel that having Apple, Google and others all controlling things would make TV much worse as it would introduce incompatible formats and transmission systems.

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Dr?

Re: Just trying to protect their balliwick

If you wanted content in a convenient way, why would you get it through the horror show that is iTunes? I only have it installed to copy the odd album onto my wife's iPod but even this fleeting interaction cements it as the worst piece of software installed on my machine... this was true even when I had my fleeting dalliance with Windows Vista.

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Re: Just trying to protect their balliwick

You are aware of course that it was Apple and the publishers that did this to e-books and it was Amazon that reported them to the competition authorities in the US and Europe, and Amazon that are issuing e-book customers with refunds from the payments they have received from the publishers that settled?

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Linux

Re: Just trying to protect their balliwick

Apple is really the only vendor that pushes it's own exclusive ecosystem and suffers from NIH syndrome. Most other vendors at least try to be more flexible. Although ARM hardware will only let you do so much.

Most other video appliances are closer to an HTPC that is MORE compatible rather than less.

Playing video formats from across the pond is a good example of this.

DRM is a problem but most other services are hardware agnostic.

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Re: Just trying to protect their balliwick

Quite - the thing is that if Apple do make a TV, then even though Samsung, LG etc may remain bigger sellers of "smart" TVs, we'll find that suddenly TV companies will drop support for them, and only make it available for the minority of Apple TV users. The same happened in the phone market, and the industry's idea of moving the press, TV and film online is to make it so you can "watch on your ipad" that most of us don't have. Usually it's the case that they love Apple - a match made in heaven when it comes to controlling and locking down media, and blocking out the more popular platforms.

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TV is not music.

Apple has been able to convince big labels to sell through their iStore by selling them fear of losing even more marketshare.

TV is a different animal. I sicerely doubt if -at least at this time- they can get the large production houses to give them preference over the classic broadasting outfits. I don't think the production houses can afford to lose the support of the NBC's, ABC's Fox' and HBO's at this time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TV is not music.

I recon that's what the store fronts (hmv/amazon/our price/virgin megastore/ whatever) thought before they took it in the face.

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Re: TV is not music.

You are ignoring key relevant details (like a fanboy).

There are multiple monopolies at play here including physical distribution monopolies. Most video content is delivered through a local physical monopoly. THAT is something that Apple never had to deal with in the music realm. Also, music already had a well established payment model. Most people simply don't buy the stuff they watch ala carte. They buy subscriptions to services.

Virgin Megastore was never a monopoly. It was also never a monopoly that controlled access to the user. It was also not a monopoly over which all Apple product needs to traverse.

It's not just another example of "Apple uber alles".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: TV is not music.

Sadly your first sentence labeled you an ignorant dick. The thought that someone could say that "Somebody thought that before" is a reason to call them a fan boy probably highlights your complete lack of foresight.

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Apple TV is not really necessary

TV providers have managed the transition from scheduled content delivered to the device far better than music providers - digital TV services have allowed recording, rescheduling, automatic series following and the like for a long time, services like 4OD allow you to get access to earlier stuff very easily (and freely, adverts notwithstanding...) - the Music industry took an age to do similar, and it took iTunes or Spotify - third parties - to really make it mainstream.

The TV industry already occupies the niche that Apple would want to occupy, and already has the capacity to monetise delivery to the device - they have absolutely no need to pay the Cupertino tax, and will just smile sweetly and make cutting jibes when Apple says that the iTV service will be available real soon now...just with very little content.

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Re: Apple TV is not really necessary

There were smartphones before the iPhone was invented, and in terms of the feature tick-list, the iPhone hasn't really introduced anything new. The problem was that before the iPhone, people didn't use most of the features of their phone because the interface was too confusing, and it was too much of an effort to actually get at the features. Apple showed everyone else how it should be done.

People typically have 2 or 3 different remote controls for the TV itself, Sky/Freesat/Freeview box, Hard disk recorder, Playstation and so on, each with their own different interface. There is definitely scope to simplify this.

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Re: Apple TV is not really necessary

Ironically Woz started a company making programmable remotes specifically to 'solve' this problem! (CL 9)

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TWC v Apple

Hope they both lose, both have overpriced products, both are involved in dodgy practices with reference to customer service. Plague on both their houses.

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Alert

More lawsuit fun

Whatever happens it'll be fun watching Apple/LG/Sony/Samsung tear at each other over idiotic patents (speaker shape, button placement, content menu GUI etc). I really hope this doesn't turn out to be true.

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Ultraviolet

I notice Time Warner are also missing from the UltraViolet alliance so perhaps they really don't want anyone to buy or sell their content.

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Could be a much needed kick up the arse...

I had the misfortune recently to use a new "smart" TV (I think it was a Sony). Whoever designed the UI and remote controls for these should be taken outside and shot. In the legs. And left outside in a forest. Tied to an ants nest.

I'm not an Apple fan at all, but I can guarantee that they will at least be able to make a usable device, with a functioning interface, albeit locked down to their services. An Aplle TV would give some impetus to other manufacturers to start building decent systems.

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Re: Could be a much needed kick up the arse...

My new Samsung series 6 TV is pretty good, really, excellent picture, very skinny and so on.

Niggles being... remote control shoulda been bluetooth and have a trackball/qwerty mode and the DLNA isn't really DLNA, they Microsofted it so you need to run a Sammy meeja player on a PC. Epic fail, that one.

Though my XBMC Raspberry Pi handles all my media with elan via my Android phone as a remote anyway

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Unhappy

Re: Could be a much needed kick up the arse...

You could be talking about my new Samsung freeview PVR. The smart bit of it is brill. Youtube, BBC iplayer, lovefilm and freeview at my fingertips. Nice.

And then you realise that the MMI was written by 4 different programmers, in three different countries, in two different languages......and they hated each other.

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Re: Could be a much needed kick up the arse...

You're not an Apple fan, but you're sounding like one...

My LG TV's interface is just fine. And it streams with any OS I like, any device I like, using any software I like, using open standards.

The Apple world is to make you use itunes (which I find horrendous - and even if you don't, the point is that people should have a choice), and be optimised to work with Apple idevices. Just look at the fiasco in the audio industry where so much stuff only supports being physically connected to an Apple only idevice. And then that gets stuffed up when Apple change the connector - serves them right.

Loads of manufacturers are already competing to build even better systems. And Google are moving in with Google TV, which is gaining support. Apple would be just yet another company, coming late to the party.

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Devil

Resistance is futile..

Ok with how many billion in the bank? - maybe apple should just go out and become a content producer, much like that other famed device manufacturer... erm.. erm... SONY..

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Because there isn't enough product placement and bias to apple already in films/series. On the otherside it would be a better way to spend money instead of on lawyers

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Re: Resistance is futile..

Apple already has an existing relationship with Disney, due to Jobs' owning Pixar that was bought out by Disney making him (and now his widow) the single largest shareholder in Disney.

That would be the company to buy. Not because of the movies or the mouse, but because of ESPN. In the US, ESPN is the big dog that dictates to cable companies, satellite companies, and everyone else. You own them, you can make the rest dance to your tune.

They won't do this because they don't want to run a media empire, and certainly not in the hopes of helping a rumored product that may never exist, but it would sure shake things up if they did.

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Languages, families, incumbents, HD... sorry Apple

I've said this before, but TV is way more complicated than a collection of songs aka iTunes.

1) It has to, at least in part, be in your local language - so local producers hold sway

2) Everyone in the family wants to use it and sometimes share viewing - queue prime time shows and public broadcasting (I'm generalising!)

3) Strong local players, Sky *cough*, have already produced all-in-one boxes - so no need for smart TVs with wonderful UI

4) Lack of bandwidth, for now, dictate that live HD has to be over satellite for most parts of Europe - sorry, no cloudy goodness...

Ironically, our Sky+ box connects through an Airport Express, but that's as close as Apple will get to TV.

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If you are not on the ball, you will Perish..

Things change, Warner just thinks they can keep stuff the same. Evolution will just make sure they perish. People want content on their devices, so if a device maker wants to display your content on their devices you better take notice and embrace. Or history will welcome you as yet another cu de sac...

What are you going to do when Apple just hires a bunch of producers and actors and start to provide their own content.. Sit in the corner and sulk?

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Re: If you are not on the ball, you will Perish..

Coming up next on Apple: iSitcom! A bunch of hillllllarious 20 somethings sit around in their iApartment and discuss how great Apple products are.

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Re: If you are not on the ball, you will Perish..

Hilarity ensues when the 'slow' member of the iGroup brings home an Otherbrand device and is subjected to relentless mocking for his social gaffe.

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He's scared. He knows it is the beginning of the end.

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FAIL

Apple needs TV networks more than TV networks need Apple

TV Networks aren't the same as the record industry. They hold all of the cards. And while indie film makers can attempt to make indie TV shows and display them on Youtube, the big financial backing isn't going to happen because TV Networks hold the cards there and in content delivery. Viewing TV shows and movies on iTunes is as close as the TV and film industry wants Apple to get. They've all seen how Apple railroaded the record industry into iTunes. There is no way that TV networks will allow Apple to control any part of the content delivery food chain. It's just not going to happen. Comcast in particular, can already deliver it's content onto Laptops, Smartphones, and Tablets. They simply don't need Apple for delivery of content to an overprice, under featured "Smart TV". That model works in phones and tablets, but who is going to overpay for a Smart TV when a 42" LCD TV can be purchased for under $400 right now? Who really needs a "SMART TV", anyway? Apple isn't going to get it's way. Jobs couldn't persuade anyone and Cook definitely won't get anywhere with it.

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Linux

Re: Apple needs TV networks more than TV networks need Apple

That's not the problem.

The problem is that the cable providers own the data networks.

You are trying to unseat the platform owner. It's a lot like Netscape trying to unseat Microsoft.

If I decide to go crazy with my Roku, my local physical monopoly can just go crazy with the bandwidth caps. Plus current tech already limits what you can do with HD material.

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Devil

Ok first, how many of you are American or Canadian? If you're not, you probably do not have a fucking clue how the Cable operators operate. Its nothing to be ashamed of. I have no clue how your systems work, I know you pay a license fee for each TV you own and you have something called Freeview. And that's about all.

They're skeezier than the Broadcast Networks plus the Film Studios, and that takes some doing. Playing with a Cable Operator is like dancing with the devil, a rather lenient devil but a devil all the same. Keep in mind where Ted Turner made a good portion of his money before Organic meats and CNN, but after billboards. Same company we're talking about right here, what they call Time Warner Cable now.

The thing is that if TWC wont let Apple in, except as yet another device manufacturer for them (like Cisco, Scientific Atlanta, etc) neither will other nationwide operators like Comcast and Cox or regional operators like Advance-Newhouse (d/b/a Brighthouse Networks, my ISP and Cable Company and one I have no problems with) because they all view Apple as a threat and rightly so.

They turned a once extremely lucrative extortion and control operation on a part of the Cellular Telecom companies into what's now basically a dumb pipe with all content coming from iTunes or Google Play. The Cable companies watched and learned how Jobs, Cook and Apple Inc play ball. And they've decided not to let them into their game unless Apple plays by their rules. But Apple's a pissant and would just fuck them over anyway, and they know it. So, better to let them try it themselves, fail miserably and give up for 5 to 20 years. As long as data can flow over the cable companies' networks, Apple has no legitimate reason to bitch. Though they will, and quite loudly.

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Anonymous Coward

" I know you pay a license fee for each TV you own and you have something called Freeview. And that's about all."

Less than all, in fact - generally* you only need one TV license per address, not one per device.

*ignoring edge cases such as student halls of residence.

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Dr?

"I know you pay a license fee for each TV you own"

Not in the UK. One per household.

We have Sky TV and Virgin which are, as far as I can tell, something similar to cable companies. I.E. rip off merchants that would cut their grandma's throat for a fiver.

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Cable providers are content distribution, not production....

Yes, there's some overlap -- quite a bit at times, but that's the one thing that seems to be missing in most of this discussion (and about books, too). In the music and book business, there was a complete vacuum in terms of convenient distribution channels. The producers would ship product to a brick and mortar location, and then the consumer would have to get up off his couch and go to the book- or music store. This meant that there was nothing (generally speaking) to supplant when Apple or Amazon got their respective bits rolling. When the comparison is "get up and get moving" vs. "sit on the couch with a snack", it's pretty obvious which choice we Americans will make.

TV (in the US, at least) is a different ecosystem, though -- not only is there an existing choice of convenient delivery mechanisms and providers (local affiliates over-the-air, cable, satellite), but many of those choices are very well entrenched with, and exert quite a bit of power over, the actual content producers. Apple has a (relatively) easy time of it going to a label and saying, "iTunes is the entrenched market -- sign with us or starve" because the labels don't really have an alternate competitive distribution channel. It's a fairly steep hill to climb to go to a content producer (say, Bad Robot) and say the same thing.

Also, keep in mind that it's the established players that front a good deal of the production costs for the content producers, too, and that the cost of producing books (writing, editing, publishing) or music (writing, recording, publishing) are miniscule compared to the cost of producing a quality mass-appeal scripted TV show (by "quality" I mean "production quality", not "artistic quality").

Now, none of this is to say that the existing system is a particularly good system from the consumers' point of view, or that it should be preserved, or that TWC are anything but horrible, or even that Apple or any other tech player can't change the nature of TV, but rather that this is a very different battle for them to fight.

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middle man

Im guessing they don't like Apple taking a 30% slice of the revenue for simply redistributing TV content

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>"I know you pay a license fee for each TV you own"

Not in the UK. One per household.<

Wrong, wrong, wrong. You only require a TV license if you watch live TV, so you need a licence to to watch live TV on a PC (eg BBC News24 which streams live from the internet), but you can have ten TVs in your house and pay nothing if you use them as PC monitors etc.

Also, Steve Jobs was the 'shaker & changer', the vibe I get from Tim Cook is a middle aged shop keeper, an 'Arkwright' (open all hours), if you like, perfectly happy as long as money is still coming in, 'stack n sell 'em high (proof? the iPad mini - whether Jobs would of released one or not he would have ensured the specs were the most desirable they could be, processor, memory, CPU).

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