By Stephen Hackett
October 31, 2019 9:57 AM PT
The Hackett File: Apple, the Media Company
When Apple dropped “computer” from it name the morning of the first iPhone keynote, it was jarring for some, and upsetting for others. Mat Honan wrote this for PCWorld and Macworld at the time:
Formerly Apple Computer, the name change reflects the company’s newfound emphasis on consumer electronics. Jobs revealed the change following announcements on the new Apple TV and iPhone, with no new Mac configurations announced whatsoever.
You can sense the saltiness about the lack of Mac announcements. I don’t know if Honan meant for that to be there, but I think a lot of people felt it.
The truth is, “Apple, Inc.” was a better name for the company as it transitions from the Mac and iPod to a wider range of products, which would expand in later years to not only add the iPhone and Apple TV, but the iPad, Apple Watch and audio products like AirPods and the HomePod as well.
However, we have arrived at the biggest departure from the original vision of the company yet — the launch of Apple TV+. Free for a year with the purchase of most Apple hardware products — or a mere $4.99/month — Apple TV+ marks Apple getting serious about making its own content.
Of course, Apple has sold content for years, since the advent of the iTunes Store back in 2003. It has sold countless songs, audio books, TV shows and movies. Apple Music has streamed millions and millions of songs to users since 2015. In those years, the company has learned not only how to serve media files, but how to curate collections of content in ways that consumers find appealing.
The move from selling to creating is a big one, and I think Apple is ready. It is easy to mock Apple’s first TV projects — Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke — because they were pretty bad. Apple learned pretty quickly that a bunch of technology executives are the wrong people to lead up this sort of initiative, and it has hired some major players to run Apple TV+, and that’s before you get to the star power involved in producing the shows themselves.
In August, it was reported that Apple has spent over $6 billion on getting TV+ up and running. That’s an astonishing number, and a real sign that Apple is serious about this.
It’s too soon to know the quality of the content coming with Apple TV+, but clearly Apple is not messing around here. If 2007 was the year Apple became more than a computer company, 2019 is going to be the year it becomes more than a technology company. Meet Apple, the media giant.
Like 12 years ago, there are people who are cranky about the change, but complaining that Apple is too busy making TV shows to fix the MacBook Pro keyboard is short-sighted. Apple is bigger than ever — in just about every single way — and it has hired enough people to create content and keep things like the Mac and iPhone on track.
Maybe with all of this new talent, they can put their heads together and even fix the Siri Remote that comes with the Apple TV.
[Stephen Hackett is the author of 512 Pixels and co-founder of Relay FM.]