Apple’s new TV will have a dedicated App Store, that could help it break into gaming and entertainment.
IN APPLE’s flawless white testing room to the right of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium’s stage, star designer Sir Jony Ive is keeping a beady eye on the hundreds of journalists eagerly pawing his latest creation, the rose gold iPhone 6s.
Everyone is scuffling to take pictures as t-shirted assistants dutifully wipe the sticky fingerprints from its screen.
Across the hall, the Apple TV demo area is an altogether more civilised affair. It is dark, and the journalists are perched politely on white benches to watch the assistants demonstrate the fourth-generation Apple TV’s gaming capabilities.
It’s a neat metaphor for the event that preceded these two very different visions, which saw Apple launch new luxury Apple Watch faces and straps in collaboration with luxury brand Hermès, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the iPad mini, new Apple TV and two iPhones – the iPhone 6s and the 6s Plus – in an uncharacteristically busy presentation.
Apple TV was the product blessed with the most radical makeover, gaining an App Store, voice control integration and a new focus on gaming. It should have been the star of the show. And yet it was the iPhone the crowd flocked to first, to the extent that the stressed assistants only let 10 people into the gleaming room at a time.
Back in the TV space, Apple’s head of software engineering Craig Federighi strode around chatting into his iPhone, unharried.
Out of Apple’s ever-expanding product roster, Apple TV is likely to be the one most people have had the least contact with, by the very nature thatour phones and tablets have become the second and third screens that divert our full attention away from the television screen.
The argument is that we are moving ever further away from our living rooms. But Apple is hoping its new box’s multimedia properties will keep us glued to our sofas.
The monumental success of the iPhone, the business’s core product, is both a blessing and a curse – how can Apple make sure the golden goose keeps laying?
Analysts have raised questions about the iPad’s steadily declining sales (with the exception of a spike around Christmas time) – falling by 17pc year-on-year in the three months to June.
We’ve known for a long time that the tablet market is plateauing, and trying to draw sales parallels between the iPhone and the iPad is, for want of a better expression, like comparing apples and oranges. They’re different beasts with different purposes.
So can the new Apple TV crack the living-room centric gaming market? The new App Store is central to this plan of domination. It allows developers to create new apps for the platform and expand it beyond the narrow confines of passively watching content, to shopping, gaming and listening to music.
JP Morgan is predicting the new box will shift 24m units next year, adding 3.3pc to the company’s earnings per share. This bold estimate is driven by the belief that app store access to established, well-loved games will transform Apple TV into a real competitor to Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation.
But it is Apple’s much-rumoured move into creating its own original TV content, likley to be revealed in the spring, which will cement Apple TV’s place in the market and our homes – not necessarily the box in its current form. But as chief executive Tim Cook eyes “the future of television”, I doubt he’s too worried about which side of Apple’s auditorium we run to first, so long as we keep on running.