If I were a betting man -- and once upon a time, I was -- I would bet big on Apple this year. The way I see it, if company strategists live up to their own expectations, they could revolutionize advertising (not just the TV) in 2013. This would happen if Apple television launched.
I am a devotee of all Apple products, and one of my favorites is the Apple TV “box.” I have two in my house, which coincidentally matches the number of my kids. It may be a coincidence, but I bring it up because the Apple TV saves us thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours. When I was a kid, my parents had VHS tapes. Kids a few years ago had DVD’s. All of these cost money. I have Apple TV, and on that device I have Netflix. I don’t have to buy DVDs (or Blu-Rays) because everything I need to keep my kids occupied when I’m tired is right there.
Of course, this has little to do with advertising -- but trust me, I’m getting there.
If Apple does indeed roll out its television product this year, that will complete the company’s dominance in the home. Apple already dominates the mobile landscape, is pretty ubiquitous these days in the PC-element of most homes I'm familiar with, and literally owns the tablet PC market with its iPad. If the company rolls out a television that is in any way comparable to the quality and experience of these other products, then it will be capable of delivering an advertising or marketing experience across every major entertainment screen in the digital home.
Most important, Apple will be capable of offering data about consumer usage across all of these platforms, and delivering targeted messaging throughout the home. That's a very unique position to be in, and one that most other technology companies would be quite envious of.
To date, the “digital home” has been a hodgepodge of different brands delivering different products. Way back in 1998 and 1999 when the dominant buzzword of the day indeed was the “digital home,” companies like Intel, Microsoft and Sony were leading the charge. These days Apple has supplanted most of these companies -- at least for consumers. Apple has literally become the Apple of their eye.
There are two hurdles to this coming of age for Apple in the television landscape. First, TV sets are a much longer sell than phones. Most homes buy a new TV every eight to 10 years, while consumers buy new phones approximately every two to three years. The TV is a much larger ticket item as well, so more people will be willing to wait until the second-generation version and not snap up the first one out of the gate.
The second hurdle is that Apple has not yet been successful at creating its own ad platform -- iAd was a bust in most eyes. But Apple can still figure things out. If you own the devices, and you own much of the software that consumers use that’s installed on those devices, you'd have a ton of data. All that data, mostly considered first-party data, could be used to craft a cross-device advertising experience to “surround” consumers in their own homes. If Apple is successful at getting its television sets into the home and creating a user-friendly experience that integrates advertising in some way other than just standard commercials, it can achieve something no other company has ever achieved: fully integrated in-home marketing.
So that would be my bet, and I don’t consider it much of a long shot.
What do you think?