Does Apple Really Want To Be Like Netflix?
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple(AAPL) absolutely has to have something up its sleeve. The few things we have been reading about the forthcoming iTV (or whatever they will call it), as they pertain to content, simply cannot be true. If they are, I am even more long-term bearish AAPL than I thought I was.
For a while now, we have been hearing that Apple is running into myriad roadblocks as it attempts to snag premium content from Hollywood's old guard.
This should come as no surprise. While Apple strong-armed the music industry into doing exactly what it wanted, how it wanted it done and when it wanted it to happen, that act will not fly with the TV and movie guys. Apple pulls sway with wireless carriers to subsidize the living heck out of iPhone because it operates from a position of massive strength in that relationship. It might even be able to take cable and satellite companies to the cleaners to subsidize iTV. When you look to the owners of premium content, however, Apple is really not all that different than Netflix(NFLX) .
Certainly, Apple is 500 times the company Netflix is. It has loads more money. From every angle, Apple reigns superior over Netflix. Then, why does it appear that Apple is looking to mold iTV from what basically amounts to a Netflix model?
There has to be more, much more, to the story. Is Apple really going to enter a bidding war with the likes of Rupert Murdoch's Sky Sports and Al Jazeera to secure English broadcast rights to English Premier League soccer? And if Apple is indeed talking to Epix about content it's sane and logical to imagine it's talking to other big-time content owners as well.
If this is the case, it's a good thing Apple has billions upon billions of dollars at its disposal. The level of spending Apple will have to attain to cull together a robust offering will make the several billion Netflix is on the hook for look like the car payment on a new Dodge Dart. In other words, Apple will do what Netflix needs to do, but does not have the cash to do to be successful. But, that's a surface scratch view that ignores context.
Even if Netflix found itself flush with Apple-like cash it could never be successful as a middle man. Unless Apple offers up most of its war chest of cash, it will find itself in a situation similar to Netflix. Content owners have roughly the same amount of incentive to offer Apple premium programming as they do Netflix. Apple operates from more of a position of strength than Netflix given the popularity of its products, but that's not enough to impress and intimidate Hollywood.