Monday, April 3, 2017

Apple TV Penetration Hits 5%

Ben Lovejoy:

New data from comScore shows that 5% of all U.S. households with a WiFi connection now use Apple TV. Apple’s streaming TV box is the fourth most popular platform after Roku, Amazon’s fireTV and Google’s Chromecast.

I’m still having regular problems simply playing video via Apple TV 3. It will take 45 minutes before a TV show is ready to play and sometimes stop loading entirely. This is exactly what I don’t want to deal with when relaxing for a few minutes before bed.

An iPhone in the same room can play instantly. It can also AirPlay, albeit with an increasingly awkward interface, to the Apple TV.

I always expected that it would be lack of content that might draw me away from Apple TV. As it happens, my content needs are pretty basic, I don’t want a streaming subscription, and I’m tempted to switch to something else because it simply doesn’t work reliably. Of course, I’ve now purchased lots of content and am locked in.

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Do you use Google DNS or OpenDNS, or anything but your isp's dns?

That would and could cause this delay because of CDN issues.

I can watch video within 5 seconds of buying.

@John No custom DNS. And the other devices, which all work fine, are on the same Wi-Fi. (Apple TV has mostly not worked well over Ethernet for me.)

Fear of lock-in is why I continue to buy CDs and Blu-rays for the stuff I want to "permanently" keep. Or at least buy DRM-free, as I do with music from Amazon.

"I’m still having regular problems simply playing video via Apple TV 3. It will take 45 minutes before a TV show is ready to play and sometimes stop loading entirely."

Huh. I wouldn't take an Apple TV if you gave me one for free for a variety of reasons, but this is one complaint I haven't heard before.

Michael: you should buy a cheap Roku or Amazon stream stick. They're almost giving them away. That would be the method to troubleshoot if your issues are Apple TV specific, or related to your MSO.

"Fear of lock-in is why I continue to buy CDs and Blu-rays for the stuff I want to "permanently" keep."

I shall venture that "permanence" and "fear of lock-in" are two very different concepts.

Obviously, if you want permanence, physical media is the only sensible way to go. (Through personally, I tend to buy most, but not all, of my physical media in order to either get various extras, or to get content that isn't available on streaming services. I'm less worried about making sure my $20 investment is not worthless in 10 or 15 years. YMMV.)

But OTOH, fear of lock-in is merely shorthand for saying "buy your content from Amazon, not Apple." Amazon has been a multi-platform delivery system for its content for a decade+ now, since the very inception of its e-content business, and I don't see them changing their strategy in the near or mid-term future. If I purchase content from Amazon, I can play it back on my TiVo, my Roku, or my Fire TV (which I bought solely to get early access to FilmStruck before it was released on other platforms.) And it's not just those three devices; Amazon will let you play back your content on pretty almost any device in existence that doesn't prevent it from doing so. They continue to create clients for devices with very marginal market share to as an example of their desire not to lock you in. Note the similarity to Amazon's non-lock-in multi-platform delivery strategy for its book content.

In other words, if you buy content from Amazon, the fear is not that of lock-in. The fear is that Amazon will either go out of business, or drastically change their decade+ long business model for content delivery, which seems unlikely to me given their core philosophy on how they see their role in selling content - aka access your content on whatever device you want.

(I'll also note that the difference between Amazon's and Apple's philosophy to lock-in plays a large part in Apple's tiny share of the market, IMHO, along with Apple's absurd high-margin hardware price strategy, of course.)

@Chucky Yeah, in retrospect I should have been buying video content from Amazon. I remember being unimpressed with their initial offerings, and I remember limitations downloading to iOS devices, but now the selection seems pretty good, and the app is probably better than Apple’s. Of course, switching now would mean that my library is forever split into two silos.

"I remember being unimpressed with their initial offerings"

Huh. Other than those 6 month only gifts to Steve-o from Fox and Disney for TV rentals, as long as I can remember Apple and Amazon have had almost identical catalogs at identical prices.

"Of course, switching now would mean that my library is forever split into two silos."

True. But the adage of not throwing good money after bad may apply here...

(And dunno if you still use your TiVo, but I do love their OnePass with the fire of a thousand suns. The unified list of my stored DVR recordings mixed in with my OTT streaming bookmarks, all seamlessly accessed via the same UI and same remote, is a joyous UX. But that requires you use Amazon or Vudu, and I'd advise Amazon. Plus, I assume you've already got Prime for physical delivery purposes, and they've got a better catalog than Netflix to my taste, not to mention better delivery QoS.)

@Chucky I thought Amazon had no 1080 (fixed?) or Mac (still?) downloads. I’m talking before the Fire TV came out. I haven’t really investigated this area much since. Looks like you still can’t buy from the app (due to Apple). Yes, I think it may be time to cut my losses, both due to the current situation and the trajectories (Amazon’s original content, and who would have thought they would make a better app?). Nope, I cut the cord and haven’t used TiVo in years. Finally signed up for Prime this year because of the credit card.

"I thought Amazon had no 1080 (fixed?)"

Fixed long, long ago. Around the same time as Apple, IIRC.

"or Mac (still?) downloads"

Yeah. Amazon has no downloads whatsoever anymore. The only place they ever had downloads was for the TiVo, to the best of my knowledge, and they EOL'd that a year or so ago.

The only sane rationale I've been able to come up with for using Apple for video is if you have too slow an internet connection to stream at reasonable PQ, or too intermittent an internet connection to make streaming truly viable. Apple's download options for both Mac and Windows are essential for those populations.


"Nope, I cut the cord and haven’t used TiVo in years."

Dang. You've missed all the good stuff. Not only do now they have the unified DVR / OTT list, which no one else has - for that matter, no one even has a unified OTT list - but they've also introduced a superb version of Comskip, done by humans at the TiVo mothership, for prime time shows. I used to buy multicast TV series I really liked such as Better Call Saul or The Americans just so I wouldn't have to distract myself from the shows with manual Comskip, but now I just record 'em and save the dollars.

(And you've given up on the Celtics? They're good again.)

Of course, I live in a metro area with four wireline MSO's all competing for my business, so I'm able to drive a very, very hard bargain to get TV service as an almost free throw-in to broadband service, but I recognize that most Americans are at the merciless whims of a monopoly wireline MSO...

@Chucky It looks like the iOS app can download now, though, which is essential. Comcast, the sole provider, is OK here, but hotel Wi-Fi is too slow for streaming. I have been downloading to the Mac and playing video via an HDMI cable, but that wouldn’t work if Amazon has no Mac support. I guess I could get a Lightning-to-HDMI adapter?

I haven’t had much time for basketball the last few years, and I lost interest in the Celtics when they traded the entire team except for Bradley.

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