Apple knows the appeal of must-have consumer electronics better than anyone. Its brand singularly created markets for mobile phones, tablets, computers, audio speakers and now watches.
Yet, as tech rivals Google and Facebook jump into the video content business hoping to bridge the considerable gap to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and even Hulu, Apple has taken baby steps.
While the late Steve Jobs infamously considered Apple TV a “little hobby,” current CEO Tim Cook has been equally slow to jump on the bandwagon – until now. Indeed, Apple considers itself anything but expert on the machinations of Hollywood.
“We don’t know anything about making television,” Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet software and services, told The New York Times at the recent South by Southwest media confab in Austin, Tex.
Despite sitting on reported fiscal largess exceeding $250 billion, Apple’s forays into original programing are all but non-existent – perhaps due to cautionary missteps taken by Microsoft and Yahoo, among others.
Apple is expert at creating apps, but recent original 10-episode reality show, “Planet of the Apps,” where contestants attempted turn their app ideas into careers, was largely unremarkable.
“They know music and they know apps, and I’m sure they’ll begin to explore other genres,” Jake Wayne, a participant on the show, told Mashable.com. “For now, they’re doing what they know best.”
Maybe, but Apple is leaving its tech comfort zone and creating a sizeable beachhead in Hollywood. It is building a 128,000-square foot media complex on the former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer grounds in Culver City, Calif.
Last summer, Cue hired Sony Pictures Television executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg – 15-year veterans behind programs such as “Breaking Bad,” (AMC Networks) spinoff “Better Call Saul,” (Netflix) “The Crown,” (Netflix) “Damages,” “The Blacklist,” “Sneaky Pete” (Amazon) and “Rescue Me,” among others.
“We have exciting plans in store for customers and can’t wait for [Erlicht and Van Amburg] to bring their expertise to Apple,” Cue said at the time.
Indeed, the executives reportedly oversee a staff of more than 40, charged with operating original content divisions around drama, children, South America and European programing.
Production deals with Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steven Spielberg, Damien Chazelle, M. Night Shyamalan, Kristen Wiig and Octavia Spencer highlight more than 12 original programs greenlighted for completion.
“We’re all in,” Cue said. “We’re completely all in.”