In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Apple’s Eddy Cue goes on the record to discuss the new Apple TV’s future, the company’s entertainment ambitions with Apple Music and TV shows, as well as its competitors and partners. The piece is a bit of an overview bio on the SVP of Internet Software and Services at the start, but Cue also addresses rumors Apple is looking to get into the TV business itself…
Cue repeats the company’s ongoing message that its focus on media is to generally improve the experience around it, adding that the new Apple TV is much more interactive than a traditional cable box. Cue actually cools the fire on rumors of a potential Apple Cable service, however, in the interview:
Whether we’re providing it or somebody else is, it really doesn’t matter to us. What we’re trying to do is build the platform that allows anybody to get content to consumers. If a Time Warner [Cable] or a DirecTV wants to offer a bundle themselves, they should do it through Apple TV and iPad and iPhone. As a matter of fact, I’m not a big fan of the skinny bundle.
Reports of Apple attempting but struggling to put together an over-the-top streaming package have surfaced and sank more than a few times over the years.
In the interview, Cue uses the misconception that paying for a skinny bundle rather than a full-on cable package is a cost saver, although I’d argue it’s more about access and ease of signing up. Cue then describes the interactive nature of the Apple TV using the Siri Remote and how that’s missing from traditional TV:
Why can’t I just say, “I want to watch Duke basketball.” Or, even better, why doesn’t the system know that? “Here’s the Duke basketball game.” Those technical capabilities exist today. They just don’t exist for television.
Here’s Cue on the future of watching TV in general:
A satellite receiver is, to me, nothing more than a glorified VCR. And so I think there’s huge opportunities in that space because people now want to watch on their phones, they want to watch on their iPads, and they want to watch on their TVs.
Cue credits his experience with media and technology in part to Steve Jobs:
It started with Steve [Jobs]. When I met Steve, he was running Pixar and Apple at the same time. So I learned to appreciate and learn a little bit more about how that side of the business worked. And I think it gave me and Apple just a great level of appreciation of how hard it is to do what they do.
Interestingly, Cue emphasizes Apple’s interest in music and artists to boost Apple Music while distancing Apple from original TV content:
We are only going into the content business [with projects] that we think are really tied to our products. Right now, that’s Apple Music. […] We’re not in the business of trying to create TV shows. If we see it being complementary to the things we’re doing at Apple Music or if we see it being something that’s innovative on our platform, we may help them and guide them and make suggestions. But we’re not trying to compete with Netflix or compete with Comcast.
That line about not competing with Netflix or Comcast is the biggest signal that Apple’s streaming video service ambitions are all but paused for now.
Cue’s line about not doing original TV does go up against the previously rumored and now official news that Apple is involved in a documentary reality TV show about software developers called ‘Planet of the Apps’ though:
We felt like there were things that he wanted to do in the show that, if we helped him with it, it would be way better or only possible if we did it.
And what about that wild Dr. Dre series that was rumored? It sounds like that could still be a project in the works that could be distributed through Apple Music:
We’ve got nothing to announce, so there’s nothing to say about it at this point. But Dre is an amazingly talented individual and he’s always working on projects — from a radio show to a new album. It’s great to have somebody as talented as him working with us. It’s exciting.
Cue also acknowledged earlier reports that Apple was interested in buying a studio at one point:
Look, I read [the reports,] too. In general, there’s always a lot of speculation across many different companies, and some of that relates to the fact that we have a lot of money and so, therefore, we can afford to make acquisitions. So we have a lot of discussions with [Time Warner], but I don’t want to speculate. We’re not — at this point, certainly — actively trying to buy any studio.
Not included in the Q&A but mentioned in the piece is that Apple and Cue didn’t want to comment on the rumor that Apple may be talking to Tidal about an acquisition (note that rumor has been quiet since one report). Cue also discussed Apple Music and Spotify’s competition as well as how the two services have a different approach to music right now.
The full interview is worth a read at THR.