Apple thinks about TV like a tech company, and that could be a bad thing

Tim cook eddy cueGetty ImagesApple CEO Tim Cook (left) with Eddy Cue (right)

In an interview published Thursday, Apple SVP Eddy Cue talked to The Hollywood Reporter about Apple’s ambitions in TV. His answers made it clear that Apple thinks about TV very much like a tech company.

This isn’t necessarily a good thing.

When Cue talked about people’s frustration with big, 100+ channel cable bundles, he characterised it as a tech problem.

“I think it’s a misconception,” he said. “[With ‘skinny bundle’ small packages] most people, at the end of the day, end up paying more, not less, for the things they love.” The problem isn’t with the big bundle, but with the features you are getting with it, according to Cue.

“They’re not getting the features that they want,” he continued. “The fact that I have to set things to record seems idiotic. And channel guides — I get home and I want to watch a Duke basketball game; why do I have to go hunting to find out what channel it’s on? … Those technical capabilities exist today. They just don’t exist for television.”

So for Cue, the problem with TV is a technical, and it can be solved by Apple TV.

Programmers versus screenwriters

Later in the interview, Cue makes the argument that being a programmer, at its core, is like being a screenwriter.

“At the end of the day when you’re writing code, you start with a blank screen, and when you’re writing a script you start with a blank piece of paper,” he said. “You need to be creative, so the process is actually somewhat similar. But for some reason people haven’t looked at it that way.”

Both these sentiments show how much Apple is still a tech company when dealing with TV. Cue not only sees the fundamental problem of the current TV model as a tech one, but also sees the creative process of producing a hit TV show and a hit app as fundamentally similar.

You can agree or disagree with both of these statements, but taken together they suggest that Apple doesn’t think it has to fundamentally change its DNA to succeed in the media business. And that kind of thinking could hurt the company if it makes Apple unwilling to adapt its process to suit a totally new type of business.

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