It goes deeper than cash. The US tech giant has hired the tv executive who did more to disrupt middle England than any other. Yes -- Jay Hunt, who had the audacity to take the corporation's biggest hit in decades to commercial television, is heading up Apple's commissioning efforts in the UK. So it has a billion dollars, and in the UK, the woman who realised baking products would like to sponsor the country's most popular programme, even if it did lead to some angry letters and a collective "tut" at a few village hall meetings.
So what is Apple up to? Well, the observer would be forgiven for pointing out that despite about a decade of trying, the smartphone and computer maker has never managed to make much of a dent on the tv screen. Its Apple TV boxes are rarely seen outside meeting rooms at creative agencies. The reason? If you want to get some content onto a tv screen, either streaming or through a wire, it is a pretty snazzy box that helps. If you want to actually watch something on it, you're left wondering what it offers that you can't get from a much cheaper Fire TV Stick from Amazon or a smart tv with an app for Netflix.
Trust me, I've actually turned down a free Apple TV box because in the battle for HDMI socket space it's way down the list behind a Sky box, Fire TV Stick, Blu-ray player, etc. What would anyone possibly need from another box that, coming from Apple, you just know is going to try to get you to pay top dollar to download content rather than browse a bunch of fab shows on Amazon Prime and Netflix?
And there you have it. The reason why Apple is making a billion-dollar play in the television industry and the news isn't about some upgrade to its cute little black box. No, it's all about hiring the lady who had the courage to tap up "Bake Off" and make it a commercial success, as well as a viewing sensation. It's all about realising that nobody wants another box to plug into their television.
People watch tv to be entertained -- and you need content for that. I can't be the only one wondering whether Apple is looking at sluggish iPhone 8 sales and wondering what it needs to do to make its next incarnations -- would that be a 9, or do we just skip to 11? Anyway, nobody really needs a new smartphone every year unless there's a compelling reason to upgrade. Could an iTunes service that offers some content for a monthly fee be the answer? An iPhone that comes with a bunch of tv shows, maybe Apple Music too, for free or a lower fee for iPhone users than Android owners?
It just seems odd. What has taken Apple so long to realise you need a reason to buy a box and put it under a tv? You need something to be
entertained by -- you need content! After all, what did Steve Jobs go off and make another fortune through? He didn't make another piece of hardware -- he founded Pixar. He realised that content was
king, and that was twenty years ago.