Fragmentation from Apple?

Louis Gray (@louisgray) mentions an interesting point about the new Apple TV, i.e. it increases the fragmentation between Apple devices and not just the inherent differences between Apple’s two OS families, iOS and OS X. New Apple TV Extends Fragmentation, Cupertino Style

I’m a bit shocked actually. Louis speaks from experience with several devices, including iOS devices like the new Apple TV, iPad and iPod Touch and OS X devices like Macbook and the original Apple TV.

The fragmentation Louis describes goes beyond the obvious “cottage industry” for iPad apps to content available via iTunes to each device. This problem won’t go away because the new Apple TV introduces yet another segment for iOS apps.

Within the iOS family of devices, there are now three disparate categories for apps: iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. From what I’ve read and heard, apps built to run on both iPhone and iPad lack design nuances that make singularly targeted apps shine.

Big surprise there.

Even more interesting, Louis points out that his second gen Apple TV does not have the same content licensed for it as his first gen Apple TV, specifically he cannot get “Dexter” on his new Apple TV, even though the show is available generally through iTunes.

This is a major fail.

Sidebar: how excited must media content providers like recording and television/movies studios be about new devices like Apple TV and Google TV? Essentially, these devices provide a reset button for intertubes, allowing the studios to craft licensing agreements to their liking for content that they’ve lost control of to pirates. So, any gains provided by the openness of the new distribution medium (internets) have been lost to sanitized user experiences.

I’m glad I read this before satisfying my desire for a new Apple TV. Initially, I had planned to get a new Mini and use it as a streaming appliance with my TV, but the Apple TV offered a cheaper (and ideally, more targeted) experience.

Not so much apparently.

Anyway, this fragmentation is surprising from Apple, a company renowned and beloved for its uncompromising emphasis on user experience.

The fragmentation Louis describes is decidedly unfriendly for users.

So, has Apple lost sight of a core value here, or is this just par for the course as the product line expands?

Find the comments here or over on Louis’ post.




  1. When Apple was a one-trick-pony life was easy. They always knew exactly what hardware they were running on. No need to write a billion drivers like Microsoft to allow Windows to run on anything. It’s no wonder Windows seems flaky and OS X seems more stable. Apple’s life was easy.

    Now they have a bigger product set with a larger variety of hardware and some very different user interaction mechanisms (touch-screen compared to mouse etc) it’s not surprising life is not so simple now.

    Provided the individual devices work well, I’m not too bothered about the differences between them. A phone is a phone. A laptop is a laptop. An iPad is a … I’m not really sure what it is… 🙂



  2. If it were any other company, I’d agree. No surprise, but this is Apple. I’d challenge your assertion that you wouldn’t be bothered if you could watch a show on your first gen Apple TV (from iTunes), but couldn’t on your second gen Apple TV (also from iTunes).

    That’s just bad experience, thanks to the studio licensing hoops.

  3. Follow the money: fragmentation = more revenue from the fans who will buy multiple versions of the same apps – one for each device. You’ll see more fragmentation as Apple continues to evolve as a consumer device producer.

  4. Believe me, I get why it’s happening, but to Apple? I guess I expect that what Louis described about the difference in programming between his Apple TVs would send Steve Jobs into a tizzy. It’s a horrible experience.

    Oh well. No one is immune to the almighty dollar.

  5. I remember that from the Super Bowl, seemed like a weird play at the time. Didn’t know Qualcomm was behind it. Geez, who greenlit that?

  6. What does that mean in Louis’ example? He’s saying he can’t get Dexter on his new Apple TV. This is kind of a big deal to me, since I was thinking about getting one.

  7. I read what Louis stated, Jake. Dexter can only be downloaded to a PC via iTunes. Due to current licensing agreements, it can’t be streamed directly from Apple data centers (like their new one in NC) to the Apple TV. But you can most certainly download all the content you’d like from iTunes and stream it from a computer on your local network to Apple TV via iTunes “Home Sharing.” And when AirPlay is implemented, you can stream content from iOS devices to the Apple TV as well.I just bought an Apple TV and set it up for my gf last night. Thought she’d enjoy it since she already has an iPhone. With AirPlay implementation in iOS coming next month, the value proposition is even greater. Curious why you’d get one, though, since you’ve got an Evo. Although I do have a 1st gen AppleTV and can control it with an App on my Nexus one. I’m kinda waiting to see what Google TV is going to do. Right now it’s kinda bunk because I can’t stream my local music to it. I spose that’ll change when apps can be developed for it. A Boxee app on Google TV will be perfect (until we start streaming all our media via Spotify/Grooveshark/Apple/whatevs.)

  8. Got it. I’m not terribly familiar w what iTunes can do. AirPlay and Home Sharing sounds like it would work. I’m torn between Apple TV and a Mini to hook to the TV. Can’t decide.

    Not sure why having an EVO means I must get a Google TV 🙂 I’m an equal opportunity consumer.

    I’m not sold on Google’s ability to provide the amount of media options that iTunes does, and the device itself is a bit too early in its life. Dunno, we’ll see, since all this is moot w a baby on the way.

  9. Thanks. Maybe not right away, but eventually, I’ll need to stream all manner of cartoons to the home. For the kid and me 🙂

  10. Prolly the same people that greenlit this: (print version had a picture of a skittle on a playing board which became a bomb in the augmented reality)

    IRL discussion about what’s coming next for a fellows iPad, I cracked up everyone with a comment about the new backpack battery pack and radar with transparent screen, so you get an audible alarm that the telephone pole you are about to walk into isn’t virtual.

  11. Yup, saw that, interesting concept. There’s a rub though, since the iPad will undoubtably be used for other crap, it’s main purpose will be lost in the shuffle. I suppose it’s more thanks-for-buying than useful-for-service.

  12. I think someone’s built something that does that, i.e. aims to keep heads-down walkers from injuring/killing themselves and others.

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