Apple's new releases are a shot in the arm for screen convergence and digital TV

MediaCom's head of digital explains why Apple's latest releases bring us closer to the eradication of devices.

Apple TV
Apple TV

For consumers, Apple’s latest release is a step towards getting consumers used to both interacting with larger screens and seamlessly accessing apps. This creates a lovely user experience and an exciting glimpse at the technology to come that will see screens eventually converge.  

Convergence will be made possible by the advancement of technology (such as Spark, cloud computing and the reduced size of sensors) and the eventual banishment of processing from devices, helping them become faster and more flexible whilst draining less battery.

Eventually, I believe devices themselves will be eradicated. We will be able to tap any glass surface and access our TV, communications, music and work network, privately and securely. We’re not at that nirvana yet, and who knows when we will be, but Apple is bringing us a step closer to it.

Whereas cable companies’ interfaces are clunky, the improved usability of Apple TV via voice activation means people can zero straight in on the content they want to watch via apps. By driving app usage on the TV, Apple has given the start-up world an increased incentive to develop TV apps for Apple devices.

Android handset manufacturers are already facing an uphill battle here, because although Android’s sales outstrip Apple’s, Apple has a higher app usage amongst its users and is therefore a more appealing platform for which to build.

The impact of Apple TV and dual-screening
There is a lack of premium video inventory available for advertisers to buy, so Apple’s encouragement of digital TV viewing via bigger, better resolution screens with simplicity of use is very welcomed. It will hugely expand the amount of people viewing TV in this way, as well as deepen the access to high value audiences.

It will be interesting to see if and how the free to air broadcasters respond. Will they change their scheduling patterns for linear TV to tempt people back to the box in light TV, heavy video-on-demand (VOD) viewing months? Or will they continue to focus on improving catch-up digital offerings to sweep up more VOD viewers?

This will also have an impact on ad production. VOD is still a ‘nice to have’ delivered as an afterthought to the big TV production. It is still largely only in the US where cord-cutting is far more prevalent, meaning you see ads truly tailored for digital, like Volkswagen’s ‘The Force’ ad from 2012 which is created specifically for the VOD time-length, captures attention for the duration, and has twelve calls to action at the end.

If we let it, VOD on larger screens could be the next cinema for AV ad production: highly absorbing productions, great lengths for storytelling, but with the endless limits of the internet for the brand to carry on the conversation. 

Targeting and reach on Apple
Apple hasn’t cracked the ad nut yet, but with more device IDs and mobile browsing behaviours than any other single company, it has the greatest opportunity to. The app and cross device tracking conundrum is also huge: as I write this, no matter the sales pitch, there is not one holistic solution.

Consumer privacy and security are at the heart of the delays in this area, which must remain sacrosanct. However if neither Apple nor Google can innovate their way to a solution, no one can. Apple has one of the keys to unlocking this. Logged-in data at a huge scale is what is required; as everyone has to be logged into their Apple account to function their device Apple has access to a huge amount of this. This isn’t the case with Google and Android as you are only logged into Google if you choose to be when searching, using Gmail or using Chrome.   

Entry into the business market
A final point to note from this latest release is that the price point of the iPad Pro makes Apple a mainstream possibility for business. The looks and smarts of Macs used in the design community have long been the envy of the rest of us in advertising, but a $799 price tag makes the Pro closer to being a CFO’s friend and giving Apple a footprint in the office in a much bigger way.

This gives Apple access to a whole new set of data, screens and profit. With more steps like this, Apple could become as big as Google in the ad business.

Dan Chapman is head of digital at MediaCom.