What's Wrong With Apple TV?

Let me preface this article with that fact that I own 4 of the current generation Apple TVs. Prior to that, I owned 4 Roku 3s. Prior to that, I owned 4 Apple TV (3rd generation). This is an industry I care deeply about.

After reading @joesteel's article on Apple TV, I started thinking about its value proposition to potential consumers. I then started asking myself what is wrong with Apple TV in its current form? Here's what I came up with:

Does tvOS matter?

I love my Apple TVs, but they are used differently than an iOS device. With iOS, you spend time in apps that are for reading, games, news, etc. With Apple TV, you find a show and watch it. The majority of the time it's being used is simply to display content (and likely something you aren't paying Apple for). Think about tablets for a second. If you simply needed a tablet for Netflix and Hulu, would iOS or Android really matter to you? Once you hit play, does the OS really matter at that point? Do the tvOS apps look nicer than Roku apps? Sure, Roku is a lot cheaper, and it has access to just about everything Apple TV does.

Rentals make me sad

Apple's model of renting me $5 movies or selling $2 TV shows seems archaic compared to Netflix, Hulu, or Sling TV. Outside of Apple Music and movies you already purchased, most content available on Apple TV is available elsewhere. Amazon is quitely becoming a major player in the entertainment industry, and Apple TV users must AirPlay content to view it.

Game or no game

Apple should have either not allowed games on tvOS or go all in. They should have released their own controller and made sure some top tier games were on the platform (buy a studio, pay a studio, etc). While Apple initially touted the gaming capaibilities, not much as been said since. There aren't many games worth playing,but and the decent ones are simply iOS ports.

This half-hearted approach is symbolic of how Apple TV has been treated over the years by Apple.

Cook doctrine

The Tim Cook doctrine in a nutshell:

We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.

In the TV/movie business, content is the technology. There aren't many ways to watch a TV show or a movie. You hit play and sit back.

Apple hasn't invested in content, and that has made tvOS a "me too" product at best. I love my Apple TV, but if someone tells me to convince them why it's better than a Roku or Fire TV at half or a third of the cost (depending on the model), I have a tough time. Siri remote and AirPlay are neat, but they aren't a reason to pay 2x the price.