Wall Street Journal Reports Apple's TV Efforts Over The Years

28 July 2016

Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Cue is also known for a hard-nosed negotiating style. One cable-industry executive sums up Mr. Cue’s strategy as saying: “We’re Apple.”

By 2009, Apple executives were considering a subscription streaming-TV service. To entice media companies, Apple offered higher fees than pay-TV providers for their broadcast channels. But Apple wanted only certain channels, so the effort fizzled.

I think an implicit line in this (extensively-detailed) piece is that Apple has messed up by not having a TV product out the door already. The Eddy Cue anecdotes are funny but there’s definitely a sense of blame, as if Cue’s lack of cooperation is a problem blocking a resolution.

I disagree. Aside from perhaps the Hawaiian shirt incident, it just sounds like Cue is portraying the needs and wants of Apple. Apple clearly doesn’t want to compromise on its vision for a TV service, so if it can’t get the terms it wants, it doesn’t pursue a deal. Cue isn’t causing frictions, he’s just representing Apple’s set-in-stone wishes. This isn’t a ‘Apple needs Steve Jobs’ problem either; the report documents a decade of failed negotiations with media companies, including when Jobs was alive.

In fact, it would be worrying if Cue was too complicit and arranged a halfway-house solution. Apple repeatedly says it will only do things it can do well and rejects things that are good, not great. Bowing to the wants of backwards-thinking media companies isn’t fulfilling that criterion.