Apple and Samsung have announced they are bringing iTunes to the Korean company's 2018 and 2019 TV ranges. That means, for the first time, Apple will offer iTunes movie and TV show streaming on millions of televisions around the world. No Apple TV set-top-box is required.
Naturally, this has got the Apple faithful in a tizzy. What does this mean for Apple going forward and why has it made the decision to share its services on rival brands' hardware?
They need not worry. It's not new for Apple to share its software with others, albeit with mixed results. HTC phone users were once able to access iTunes on Macs and PCs and "side load" music onto their devices. Way before that, Apple teamed up with Motorola to launch a phone that could hold 100 tracks - long before the iPhone was a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye.
That particular partnership didn't go the way Apple wanted, however, and the collaboration dissolved. Apple learned enough to implement changes ahead of the iPhone launch, however, so it still came to something.
This time, Apple has its beady eye on Netflix, Disney, Google Play and other streaming services - clearly wanting a more universal slice of the action.
It's about eyeballs
And, for that you need to be available on as many devices as possible. A deal with Samsung, the number one TV maker across the globe, certainly enables Apple to do just that.
It clearly hoped that the Apple TV set-top-box would achieve the same goal without exterior help. But, while we're sure its 4K set-top box will continue to be part of the plan, the market penetration Apple needs to make its streaming offering a bigger success just can't be served by a single device in such a tough and competitive market.
By relying solely on its own hardware, Apple has to battle rival streaming device makers like Roku and Amazon, as well as services that feature on as many different devices as possible. Sticking exclusively to just the one is an obvious disadvantage in that regard. So, the Samsung deal is sure to be the first of many with TV manufacturers. Expect LG, Sony and Panasonic at the very least, to each come on board too.
The fight with Netflix
Netflix is likely its biggest target and influence. That service reportedly spent over $13bn in 2018 on its own content in order to grow its already massive subscriber base.
And it acquired those huge numbers (in the tens of millions) because it's available on virtually every device that has a screen, built in from the start or downloadable through an app store. If Apple is to compete on those terms, it will need follow the same game plan.
The Samsung partnership is just the start, therefore. It a clever and calculated move that will ensure Apple has maximum reach into the market ahead of its own possible subscription service launch.
The only thing Apple has is to do is make sure that the lessons learned with Motorola in the past aren't forgotten 14 years later.
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