The Apple rumor mill was stirred up once again this week as reports emerged that Apple executives are in discussions with Comcast about the possibility of developing a streaming service exclusively for Apple TV. This latest Apple information resulted in investors in Netflix up in arms and the streaming giant saw its stock plummet more than 10 percent in the wake of the leak of information about the possible threat to a company that has dominated the streaming market thus far.
It is clear that the market for quality streaming services is growing and is likely to become increasingly competitve as more players come to the table. The ever-expanding Amazon has also taken hold of a portion of the streaming market and claims to have approximately 20 million Prime members capable of accessing a wide variety of materials. Amazon has also indicated that it plans to release its own set-top hardware as well.
Like Amazon, Apple would presumably bring a solid base of customers to its streaming services with an estimated 17 million Apple TV devices already sold. In addition, Apple customers are known for their loyalty to the brand and Apple is known for producing a quality product. Should Apple present streaming services that are of superior quality than those already provided by Netflix, Netflix could stand to lose a significant number of customers.
Apple and other companies entering into the streaming market to threaten the existing dominance of Netflix could be bad news for customers as well. If companies have to bid against each other to acquire content, prices could go up not only for the outlets themselves, but for consumers as well.
Some analysts are speculating that rather than trying to start from scratch and beat Netflix at their own game, Apple may try to acquire the company. The possibility that Amazon may try to take over Netflix has also been suggested.
The rumors about the possibility of Apple developing a streaming service in conjunction with Comcast come at the same time that a new Apple TV device is highly anticipated. The release of a new Apple TV product is expected to come any week now and the fact that Apple has been offering $25 gift cards with the purchase of Apple TV in recent days only serves to fuel the rumors that its arrival is imminent. The company has also added a product section to its online store dedicated to Apple TV. Reports that the latest version of the set-top box will include support for gaming and iOS 7 controllers have been swirling as has speculation that it may feature a full app store, bringing apps to the device for the first time. It has also been suggested that the device might be combined with the router features of AirPort Express.
While consumers may not have to wait long to get a look at the new Apple TV set-box, it may be a bit of wait before the extent of the threat that Apple may pose to the Netflix domination of the streaming market is truly revealed.
By Michele Wessel