Dustin Curtis makes an excellent point about how many different kinds of Apple TV exist:
Apple TV is a hardware device… an app… an app or built-in feature of other devices, like smart TVs and streaming set-top boxes…. Apple TV Channels is a feature on all Apple TV apps…. Apple TV+ is a subscription streaming service…
Other than that, though, Apple TV is relatively straightforward.
Curtis’s post is funny and cutting and entirely accurate.
That said… this stuff is complicated across the board. Try to do what Apple is doing and you will end up with confusion aplenty. Just ask Amazon.
Also, I’m just going to put this out there: An article like this would also be written if Apple went to market with a hardware device called Apple TV, an app called Videos, a smart-TV app called Apple, a reselling strategy called Apple Channels (or having no name at all!), and a subscription streaming service called Apple Cinema. Too many names, Apple! It’s confusing! Why not something simpler?
Apple would also be mocked if it didn’t let you watch its originals on the Web—what about people on Windows, Apple? Or on devices without the latest OS versions? And it would be criticized if it didn’t provide its content on devices other than its own—what about my 4K Smart TV, Apple? What about my Roku or my Fire TV?
So, yes: Apple’s strategy is a mess. I’m also not sure that the alternatives are any better.
I saw someone the other day say that television is so much simpler than it used to be, and I had to laugh. Television has never been more complicated. Apple’s very Apple-like attempt to stick to a single simple phrase—“Apple TV”—can’t spackle over just what a messy situation the streaming entertainment world is right now.