Former Apple Inc chief executive officer John Sculley, the man who presided over the computer gadget company when Steve Jobs left in 1985, said a move into the television market is “Apple’s game to lose.”
Apple already has a foothold in smartphones, tablets and computers, giving it an edge in trying to take control of consumers’ living rooms, he said in an interview. Sculley, who stepped down as chief executive in 1993, has no inside knowledge of the company’s strategy.
“They own three screens — the mobile phone, tablet and computer — and you can see how important it is to them to own the fourth, which is TV,” said Sculley, who now runs an investment firm and is the chairman of the firm 3Cinteractive LLC which is a mobile-software developer.
Apple is in talks with at least one of the largest US cable companies about teaming up on a product to carry live television and other content, a person with knowledge of the discussions said. Customers would be able to use an Apple-designed device to access their set of channels instead of leasing a set-top box from cable companies for a monthly fee, said the person, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. No deal has been reached, the person said.
Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment.
Apple’s iPhone is the best-selling smartphone in the US and the iPad controls 70 percent of the country’s tablet market. This “ecosystem” is a huge advantage over competitors, Sculley said. Apple’s core principle has been improving the user experience and keeping that experience consistent across different devices, he said.
“People don’t realize how huge this is,” he said. “Microsoft wanted the living room, Sony wanted the living room and so far both have failed.”
Sculley became Apple’s CEO in 1983 and was running the company when Jobs, a co-founder, walked out two years later. Jobs returned to the floundering firm in 1997 and embarked on a comeback that eventually turned it into the world’s most valuable company.
Apple shares rose 1.8 percent to US$648.11 on Friday, reaching an all-time high. The stock has advanced 60 percent this year alone.
No one other than Steve Jobs, with his intense product focus, could have turned Apple around, said Sculley, who has not read Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of Jobs.