How Apple's Cross-Device Achievements Leaves Us With Unfulfilled Potential

With Apple’s newest operating systems and Apple Watch, we now have users who are potentially using five devices (Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV) from the same manufacturer, all interconnected through the same iCloud and iTunes accounts! Given its new offerings, here are some implications and opportunities to consider.

Apple Doesn’t Care About Ads, But It Could

Apple is not very innovative in the advertising technology space, even with the incredible audience reach its platforms offer. It’s not creating category-leading ads because it doesn’t have to. Most other cross-device media companies rely on a login tied to a free online service, so those companies are sustained and funded by advertisers who want to appear in the same place as targeted consumers. Apple’s profits, on the other hand, come from its hardware sales that are tied to proprietary software and applications. So, while Apple does have a head start on the ad experience on its devices and can block out third parties, Apple doesn’t appropriately leverage this opportunity.

For example, Apple’s vision of being out of reach and in demand did not hold up when compared the all-inclusive policies that Google, Facebook, and Twitter adopted, so it opened its proprietary iAds to smaller advertisers and began serving pre-roll and full-screen interstitial ads via iOS. However, this doesn’t offer anything that almost all tech providers on the Video Lumascape chart have been able to do for years. Furthermore, why hasn’t Apple offered interactivity in its video ads? Avoiding flash technology is not a valid excuse; industry standards such as HTML 5 MRAID and VPAID have existed since 2012 and served by plenty of companies. Closing off third-party innovation in the ad space only works if your offering is the best in the market.

Bigger Screens Are Better, but Where’s the Biggest Screen of Them All: TV?

The size enhancements of the iPhone 6 Plus allows Apple to add features and reconfigure the layout to look more like a tablet. So, what happened to Apple’s efforts in the TV space, which has so much room for creativity and innovation? Apple TV has not released a new model since March of 2012, and the Apple TV interface has not received any updates to comply with the iOS design and capabilities.

While consumers are moving away from traditional linear TV viewing experiences and are watching video on their other devices, research shows that there is a special place in consumers’ lives for the lean-back TV experience. As IP-based video technology has become more sophisticated, the connected TV viewing experience has become more complicated, causing users to switch from cable boxes to connected devices and through dozens of apps to find anything worth watching. Apple’s product suite brags about how well the devices work together, and yet the Apple TV has almost no cross-functionality with all of its other devices outside of remote controls and AirPlay.

Again, we see a situation where third-party technology is eclipsing Apple’s TV offering through both the content-finding process and the ad-viewing experience. For example, connected devices such as Roku can search for shows across all apps so that the user can choose the viewing option they desire. And devices like Sony’s Playstation and Roku can both serve interactive video ad formats that allow users to view more content and offer from advertisers. Both companies have seen overwhelming positive response rates to this. Not to mention steady industry buzz dedicated to second screen opportunities. Meanwhile, Apple TV still lags behind with seemingly ancient pre-roll ads that are stitched in between its video content.

 Still Time for Another Game-Changer

There are rumors that Apple is in talks with major cable companies to create a new subscription content model that can override cable boxes and commercials completely. This would be another huge game-changer in the industry that would rival the effects that iTunes had on digitizing the music industry. So, can Apple create the new standard in TV content viewing? Yes, absolutely. Is it a true leader in the content space now, even with its latest innovations revealed? No. Apple has the people and the technology that can revolutionize the 50” screen experience, but will they do it before the next big thing is here?

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