Steve Jobs Thinks TiVo, Roku, Google TV Are Destined to Fail – Chugs Along with Apple TV Anyway


roku digital video player displaying netflixs improved ui

Steve Jobs at the D8 Conference made a remarkable statement. In a nutshell, he thinks that over-the-top TV offerings are D.O.A. when it comes to the current subsidized TV set-top business model. And that only a “go-to-market strategy” with a built-from-scratch TV set-top box will be the only viable solution to innovate television as we know it. Read it for yourself below.

From NewTeeVee:

The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everyone a set-top box, and that pretty much undermines innovation in the sector. Ask TiVo, ask Roku, ask Google in a few months. The only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it. But right now, there’s no way to do that….The TV is going to lose until there’s a viable go-to-market strategy. That’s the fundamental problem with the industry. It’s not a problem with the technology, it’s a problem with the go-to-market strategy….I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out, but that’s why we say Apple TV is a hobby.

From Engadget:

Q: Hi, I’m from Hillcrest Labs… do you think it’s time to throw out the interface for TV? When will Apple do something there?

A: The problem with innovation in the TV industry is the go to market strategy. The TV industry has a subsidized model that gives everyone a set top box for free. So no one wants to buy a box. Ask TiVo, ask Roku, ask us… ask Google in a few months.

7:56PM Steve: So all you can do is ADD a box to the TV. You just end up with a table full of remotes, a cluster of boxes… and that’s what we have today. The only way that’s going to change is if you tear up the set top box, give it a new UI, and get it in front of consumers in a way they’re going to want it. The TV is going to lose in our eyes until there is a better go to market strategy… otherwise you’re just making another TiVo.

Interesting, but not sure he’s accurate.

TiVo is CableCARD capable, so I don’t see the point there about having to build a set-top from scratch in their case — they already did it (though you can argue that it’s not subsidized as a negative). Then there’s Roku. Roku is a ‘net connected media streamer that does one thing well (until recently with its addition of third-party apps): stream movies and TV shows from Netflix – it wasn’t designed to revolutionize TV. And then there’s Google TV, which he may or may not know, is actually built into Sony’s upcoming Internet TV — seems like Google is already jumping on that viable go-to-market solution to me (the Logitech companion box is just a hardware device to work with people’s current setup). If anything, Apple TV is lagging at the very thing Steve Jobs is criticizing the industry about. It sounds like he wants TV providers’ set-top boxes to be powered by Apple TV or something similar to create real change. On that point, I can agree. And it will most likely be Google TV and DISH Network — because of their established relationship — delivering first (or perhaps Verizon FiOS TV will steal the spotlight).




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Filed in: Content Providers, Industry Buzz, Streaming Media Devices


  • andrewmclaughlin

    Haha, and video is too small to watch on a phone. We think the tablet concept doesn't work. Other quotes from Jobs that are not to be trusted. Of course, I happen to agree that HD/BluRay DVDs are a fast failing medium. I do like the embeded aTV concept and think a full TV from Apple is in the lineup in the future.