Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was a pioneer in the home video streaming market. However, it has been falling further behind in recent years and after a slight recovery with last year’s new Apple TV streamer, it now looks positively archaic. Already in December, Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google, Hulu and even Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) have announced 4K Ultra HD content on their services. Apple’s is looking very forlorn at the back of the pack, still stuck at 1080p HD.
As pointed out by Forbes, the first two weeks of December have seen three major announcements about new 4K Ultra HD video streaming services.
Google Play launched 4K movies — perfect for streaming to its 4K Chromecast Ultra (priced $80 less than the cheapest Full HD Apple TV) — immediately offering 125 titles.
Microsoft announced its Windows 10 Movies and TV app will support 4K content, and that the Windows Store will sell and rent 4K Ultra HD content. Hulu, the video streaming service owned by a partnership of leading broadcasters, also began offering 4K video streaming at the start of the month.
Apple Has … a New TV App for iOS
While its rivals announced support for 4K video streaming, AAPL released iOS 10.2 a few days ago. The marquee feature of this upgrade is the new TV app, that aims to be a video hub for owners of Apple devices. It’s a nice feature, but it lacks two key features. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) isn’t part of it, which immediately hobbles its usefulness. And there is no support for 4K video.
Consumers don’t like paying a premium for a device that downgrades their experience … Not even Apple fans.
Virtually EVERYONE Offers 4K Video Streaming, But Not iTunes
At this point, you really have to dig to find a video streaming service that lacks 4K support. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Netflix have had it for two years now. Two years! With the announcements over the past two weeks that Google Play, the Microsoft Store and Hulu are onboard with 4K, Apple’s iTunes — still stuck at 1080p HD video — is beginning to look antiquated.
Starting at $149, the Apple TV is the most expensive mainstream set-top streamer on the market. It’s also one of the few that still doesn’t support 4K streaming. So even if an Apple TV owner connects their box to an Ultra HD TV and uses the AAPL Netflix app, they are stuck viewing at the lower resolution.
AAPL Needs to Quickly Ramp up iTunes and Apple TV
With iTunes, Apple built a solid business selling and renting movies and videos. The Apple TV — first introduced in 2007 — was one of the first commercially successful set-top media streamers.
But at this point, the company seems woefully behind the times in video streaming market.
The new fourth generation Apple TV introduced in 2015 raised hopes that AAPL was re-committing to the living room, after several years of neglect. The new Apple TV was impressive. With the new tvOS operating system, video game capabilities and its own app store, the streamer had potential to become a home entertainment center.
But even then, the lack of 4K support caused grumbling. And that was before 4K TV sales really started to take off.
In today’s market, 4K TVs are increasingly popular: 4K video streaming may still have limited content selection, but virtually every service at least offers it. Consumers expect it. Apple was able to tap dance around 4K support for the Apple TV and iTunes in 2015, but it just got a whole lot tougher to justify a video streaming service and a premium set-top box that lacks 4K support.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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