Good News: Apple TV Is Delayed

Despite months of rumors to the contrary, it now appears that Apple is not launching a TV service this year.

And for Apple fans, that's great news.

The reasons are simple - it means that above all, Apple still stands for amazing technology, beautiful design and intuitive products. It means the company isn't tempted to rush into the TV business just because it wants to be a media company. It means Apple will only get into TV when it can revolutionize it.

Apple is a consumer technology company first. In fact, it's the most successful consumer technology company in history. Apple sells hardware, and the company has become quite good at.

As it happens the company sells music too, but it is not a music company. It sells apps, games, books, magazines and spreadsheet programs too but that doesn't make Apple a gaming or publishing company either.

Apple realized years ago that a good way to differentiate its hardware was with services. These services are usually priced well and give their hardware consumers good value. But they exist to sell hardware, not because Apple wants to be in the spreadsheet business.

Look what Apple did with music: iTunes broke the album bundle and allowed consumers to buy individual songs for the first time. Apple made it easy and inexpensive to stock your iPod with music you loved. iTunes gave consumers a reason to choose Apple's iPod (and eventually the iPhone) so the other, more complicated music players quickly faded away.

Apple TV could use that kind of help. It's been outsold in the US by Roku for the past three years and is being challenged by Amazon's Fire TV.

If Apple comes out with a program service that breaks the TV bundle and provides consumers with easy and inexpensive ways to watch their favorite shows, it will be a winner and Apple TVs will fly off the shelves.

If Apple launches a TV package that looks a lot like Dish's Sling TV or Sony's Playstation Vue, or has an odd selection of channels or a high price tag, some Apple TV owners may give it a shot, but it won't help hardware sales much. And that's not good for the company or for fans with high expectations.

TV deals are complicated and not at all consumer-friendly. Undoing decades of contracts and tradition to create a better experience for viewers will take time if it's possible at all, so it's no surprise Apple is moving slowly.

Let them take their time. If they can revolutionize TV, that'll be awesome. If not, we'll just have to be happy with a new iPhone every year or two.

Photo credit: Nial Kennedy