Now that I have had some serious time with the Apple TV, it is clear Tim Cook’s comments about apps being the future of TV is quite important to the vision Steve Jobs suggested to his biographer. In fact, I am pretty certain Jobs meant apps when he told Walter Isaacson he “finally cracked it.”
Although the apps available are scarce now, once you start playing with them, you begin to see the potential. Apple treats the TV as a serious platform for developers and needs them to create a rich ecosystem of innovative apps designed just for the Apple TV to reach its full potential.
Now word is coming out Apple is about to send a lot of what I would call Apple TV evangelists to start talking to software developers to get them to be creative on Apple’s new TV platform.
“The Apple TV Tech Talks will kick off in Toronto on Dec. 7, Apple announced on its developer site on Tuesday. From there, stops will span across the U.S. and Europe, before concluding with lectures in Tokyo and Sydney.
“Get in-depth technical information on building and designing for tvOS, learn refined coding techniques, and obtain valuable development instruction from Apple experts,” the company said.
This evangelistic move comes directly out of Apple’s Desktop Publishing playbook. Back in 1985, when I got to work on Apple’s DTP marketing focus, Apple realized that, in order for the Mac to become the gold standard in desktop publishing, they would need serious support from developers and the people who published documents at small publishing houses, advertising agencies and even people who did newsletters.
They sent out software evangelists all over the US and Europe and even did special DTP seminars in various cities showing off how the Mac and Pagemaker could be used to create documents on a desktop PC. At the same time, they worked the development community to create things like new fonts, new templates and all sort of applications that would enhance the types of things publishers could do with their Mac/Pagemaker solution.
This type of software evangelism is actually guerrilla evangelism. It is designed to jump start the developers and get them moving faster to create apps for the Apple TV and help Apple establish this product as the game changing device Jobs promised.
I see Apple doing this to insure top notch developers really understand Apple’s vision and how best to create apps that will be viewed on 40–65 inch screens. These screens are a challenge to most developers since they are used to creating apps for much smaller screens. But they also present a new canvas for them to work with and Apple wants the most innovative and unique apps to drive greater demand for the Apple TV. If they do, it means strong sales, especially by the later part of 2016, when I believe Apple does a much larger marketing campaign around the new Apple TV.
I know from personal use of the Apple TV that, once you have apps to choose from, you want more. This is Apple’s way of making sure the developer community moves faster to create TV apps and bring new, innovative apps to the Apple TV sooner rather than later.
Although this approach is not new to Apple given its desktop publishing roots, Apple is one of the best at exciting their developer community and giving them tools and, in this case, special handling to help them be creative. In the process, they earn more money by creating apps people will buy that make the Apple TV experience much richer. If they are successful, by this time next year, there should be thousands of Apple TV apps available and we will begin to get a better picture of Steve Jobs’ vision for re-energizing the interactive TV experience.