Apple TV Could Be Tim Cook's Downfall

The new CEO might not be able to handle uncharted territories

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Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs. That doesn't mean he can't more than competently lead the company to more years of success, but it does mean that he might not have that special something in new tech spaces, as we've previously noted. One potentially mine-filled area: transforming the Apple TV "hobby" into a serious cable competitor, which the company is looking into, reports The Wall Street Journal's Yukari Iwatani Kane and Jessica E. Vascellaro. "Apple is working on new technology to deliver video to televisions, and has been discussing whether to try to launch a subscription TV service, according to people familiar with the matter." Cook might be able to take on new iPhones and iPods, but as Apple extends into uncharted space, Cook could face roadblocks that he might not be equipped to weather.

Apple TV could very well fail. The success of the model depends not only on the technology and design of the product, but also on Apple's ability to get content providers on board. This could prove quite tricky. Google threw its set into the television market and ultimately scared TV networks away, rendering the set useless, as we noted. Of course, Apple might have had better positioning given the company's previous success with iTunes, getting major record labels to submit to their subscription plan. But Apple's triumph very much depended on a certain someone, as Gizmodo's Sam Biddle notes. Jobs "beat major record labels into $0.99 submission--dealing with every cable network under the sun will be even harder." Again, Cook is not Jobs, adds Splat F's Dan Frommer. "Steve Jobs has gotten a lot done by being Steve Jobs. He can tell people they’re stupid, and they’ll agree and probably even give him what he wants, because he’s Steve Jobs. Tim Cook can’t do that yet."

One failed project might not seem like such a huge deal, but in Apple's case it could tip the scales, argues ZDNet's Larry Dignan. "At some point, however, Apple will need its next category killer and Cook will be leading that charge. Many analysts point to TVs as Apple’s next product. Jason Perlow argued that Apple’s structure makes it harder to weather failures." And even if Apple makes it through a failed launch unblemished, Cook probably doesn't want his first big product to flop.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.