I admit it. I doubted.
I’ve been an Apple TV customer for years, but I’ve been content to let Apple TV serve a very basic purpose: giving me access to Netflix, iTunes TV shows and movies, and little else.
So when Apple CEO Tim Cook declared Apple TV’s app-centric experience the “future of TV,” I rolled my eyes.
Well, I’m not rolling them anymore.
While I haven’t seen my life change through an appified Apple TV experience, I’m convinced that developers are the key to any product taking flight. And the data says that developers love Apple TV, to the tune of 2,624 apps today, according to Appfigures. Ariel Michaeli, the founder and CEO of the app-tracking service, projects that will rise to 5,000 by the end of December and 10,000 by early 2016.
Maybe TV was meant to be about apps, after all.
There’s Apps In Them Thar Hollywood Hills
We’re just a month into Apple shipping an app-friendly new version of its Apple TV hardware and tvOS software. On average, 447 apps find their way to tvOS every day, which is where Michaeli gets his projections from. The question is, what kinds of apps? And the answer?
Games. Lots and lots of games.
Of course, games aren’t the only apps available. Mashable does a good job of showcasing the type of newly minted apps that point to the future of Apple TV. But given that we generally default to our TVs to entertain us, it’s not a bad thing that categories like games and entertainment dominate tvOS apps.
Importantly for developers, Appfigures finds that 39% of the available apps are available for purchase, rather than being free with in-app purchases. This suggests, according to Appfigures’ Michaeli, that “consumers trust the new device to provide them with an experience that’s worth paying for upfront.”
What Consumers Want To “Watch”
While games dominate the available app inventory, they don’t (yet) dominate consumer interest.
To glean consumer interest, Appfigures pulled the top 50 tvOS apps in terms of downloads and then matched them to categories. Just 16% of the top 50 apps are games, while 56% fall into the entertainment category. Small wonder, then, that the top 10 apps are all streaming apps from popular TV services and cable channels.
But the real story isn’t about the plethora of mostly unloved apps. That’s the story of apps, generally: 90% of our time is spent on mobile apps, but the vast majority of that goes to a precious few apps. On phones, that’s Facebook, messaging, and so forth. On TV, no surprise, we like to watch.
What that tells us is that tvOS and the Apple TV App Store are the real deal, that developers are paying attention, and this isn’t just another “most amazing thing ever” boast by Apple.
A year and a half ago, ReadWrite’s Adriana Lee wrote that for smart TVs, “it’s all about the apps now.” I’m a believer. The future of TV really does look like apps, and now, with tvOS bringing its powerful App Store to the living room, Apple looks set to own that future.