back to article Hey Apple - what's the $178bn for? Are you down with OTT?

After posting a record-breaking quarterly net profit of $18bn, on the back of sales of 74.5 million iPhones, Apple is sitting on $178bn in assets – despite a share buyback programme that has spent $103bn on its own stock, with $57bn of that occurring in the past 12 months. This is a staggering amount of cash, and it is only …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who is the miserable, skinny woman with the headphones? Is she anything to do with the article, or have you been randomly raiding iStock again?

    1. Warm Braw

      She appears to me to be a disappointed audiophile who has cast off her headphones in despair.

      But no, I can't see the connection either...

      1. maffski

        There's a bit crowbarred into the article claiming that Apple will use the beats brand to launch a subscription music service - the 'disappointed audiophile' is wearing beats headphones. Totes obvs surely?

  2. SuccessCase

    BBC Death

    There is a huge degree of lock-in within the TV industry, with many projects funded through subscription rather than a-la-cart pricing. One of the big resource drains has been the need to keep TV channels filled up daily with content. With OTT, that requirement is simply going away.

    The controversial point (in the UK anyway), is that this also removes the need for the BBC license fee model. The truth is the cost of the the high-quality (but increasingly rare) content we enjoy (costume-drama, news and nature) can can comfortably be covered by a-la-cart pricing when we are paying on a program by program basis, but don’t have to pay for the likes of Eastenders and day-time TV. It will simply be cheaper to buy just what we want than to pay the license fee. In my household we are already paying for higher quality production and choosing other, often higher quality, sources. I’ve been, in the past, happy to pay the license fee, but not now that it is less efficient and protecting lower quality production. Everyone will be different but I personally have not interest in it and it's clear this is true for many others as well. Especially not now my Netflix subscription got me Breaking Bad, Damages, The Good Wife, Dexter, House of Cards, Marco Polo, Archer etc.

    The BBC model is out of date. The BBC is also dying. In schools and colleges up and down the country, students, the next generation, hardly touch it, preferring Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes and illegal downloads. The BBC are living in the past and think they are providing a world class service. The still do in very limited silos. But mostly they aren't. My investigation shows students are hardly ever watching BBC iPlayer in preference to other streaming services.

    1. IHateWearingATie

      Re: BBC Death

      Just because the next generation are not using it now, does not mean that their tastes, preferences and watching / listening habits will stay the same as they get older.

      An example - if you looked int he 1960s at the number of spotty youth listening to classical music, you may have concluded that it'll be almost dead in a generation. Instead, its still going strong with mass audiences for Classic FM, Sky Arts, Andre Reui etc. My Dad followed this trend, where as part of the boomer generation spent his youth listening to the Beatles and Rolling Stones. As he has got older he's added Bach and Brahms to his listening - something he would have never dreamed of in the swinging 60s.

      1. SuccessCase

        Re: BBC Death

        "Just because the next generation are not using it now, does not mean that their tastes, preferences and watching / listening habits will stay the same as they get older."

        True, but what perhaps you don't appreciate is that it is literally dead in colleges. Many younger adults are getting out of the habit of watching it entirely and that has never before been the case. They will grow used to an almost exclusively OTT world. I've been monitoring this because it is my industry. I deliver TV services and software solutions. New habits are being formed and IMO they are unlikely to ever come back.

        And when they come back to it, they find it patronising and dumbed down. The next time the BBC News is on, stand back from it and check the tone and level of the discourse. Intelligent people have been suffering from boil a frog syndrome. It is actually dumbed down to an almost unbelievable level. They speak with a tone of voice if someone were to speak to you like that in the street, you would find it hard not to punch them.

        It is for good reasons with good intentions. Due to the public service remit, they strive to provide service meeting all needs, including viewers with low IQ and developmental challenges. But really the dumbed down one size fits all approach is no longer necessary. OTT can meet these needs more directly and in way that are more efficient or satisfying for the end user. Really next time you are watching the news back up and check this out for yourself and you will realise the extent to which what I am saying is true.

        1. Badvok

          Re: BBC Death

          @SuccessCase: Not sure how you can expect people to take your comments seriously when you keep using OTT (Over-The-Top) when you obviously mean VoD (Video-on-demand), or perhaps you don't know the difference? Maybe your references to BBC is another TLA you got wrong, it would at least explain your POV.

          1. SuccessCase

            Re: BBC Death


            Well seeing as I have for most of my adult life worked as a consultant in the Digital TV industry and have deliver VOD services to millions of customers for a living, I think I know the meaning of the terms I am using and I most certainly and specifically mean OTT.

            VOD refers to on demand service that includes programming delivered by dedicated closed TV networks; the economics of which are very different from OTT. The new world order in television is being driven by the fact service is OTT (which of course includes VOD service). The fact of VOD being available was not the key point. VOD service has been available for years and made no difference to the cosy relationships between the TV networks and the content providers. OTT is blowing the relationship wide open and is what enabled the likes of Netflix to deliver the service they have.

        2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          @SuccessCase Re: BBC Death

          BBC Content has been dumbing down for years. Look at what happened to Tomorrow's World. They slowly dumbed it down until it was like dishwater and then canned it.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: @SuccessCase BBC Death

            > Look at what happened to Tomorrow's World. They slowly dumbed it down until it was like dishwater and then canned it.

            There is a real case for bringing back Tomorrow's World... It could be part of a conversation in society about 'the future'; infrastructure, urban planning, demographics, transport, agriculture, architecture, power etc with perhaps a positive, enthusiastic leaning (to counter the 'doom and gloom' messages so often found in the news).

            The BBC does have a role to play in supporting society-wide 'conversations'.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Andre Reui (sic)

        Andre Rieu is an interesting example, though many might not 100% agree with describing him as "classical" music.

        Massively popular on TV in some parts of Europe and many parts of the world, both on free-to-air and paid-for (including pay-per-view TV).

        Massively popular CD and DVD sales across Europe (including UK). Often found on UK supermarket CD/DVD shelves and occasionally advertised on supermarket TV adverts.

        Massively popular concert tours around the world (including Europe and the UK).

        So there's an opportunity for money to be made there somewhere. But in the UK specifically, he's invisible on broadcast TV (maybe an hour or two in a dark corner on Channel 5 over the last five years). And afaict not accessible via other legal mechanisms in the UK either.


        TV in the UK is broken. Lots of channels, almost all showing identikit programming, most of which is repeats or clones of other programmes. The honourable exception might be BBC4, which on average has a negligible number of hours of previously unshown progamming in any given week. It doesn't really have to be like that.

        It's no wonder there's an opportunity in the UK for TV which is a break from the norm.

        1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          @A/C Re: Andre Reui (sic)

          I get Freesat and I often see André Rieu on the schedules.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @A/C Andre Reui (sic)

            "I get Freesat and I often see André Rieu on the schedules."

            Interesting, thanks.

            If I did have Freesat, where would I typically find him ? I know I can find him on German freetoair digital satellite at 19E, where Sky used to be in the analogue days...

    2. returnmyjedi

      Re: BBC Death

      The licence fee also pays for national and local BBC Radio stations, the loss of which would be far more catastrophic than the loss of BBC telly.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BBC Death


      I think you'd find that in your model it will be the most popular wins and therefore the quality of the content may not align with your thinking.

      You may well find that your news and costume dramas actually decrease as the rise in the 'popular' reality shows, soap operas, celebrity themed competitions and panel shows increases.

      In a purely economic driven model with cost of production versus revenue being so defined, the quality of programme is very likely to suffer.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BBC Death

      Your choice of viewing explains some of your previous rants...

      Breaking Bad - story of crystal meth dealer

      Damages - story of ruthless lawyer

      The Good Wife - story of the wife of a corrupt politician

      Dexter - story of a serial killer

      House of Cards - story of political power and manipulation

      Marco Polo - Americans trying history, always a bad idea, probably explains the poor ratings

      Archer - not really sure... some sort of cartoon?

      Wow, your house must be full of laughter and excitement.

      Love the irony of praising House of Cards in an anti-BBC rant though.

      You carry on feeding the American TV system, and leave the rest of us to enjoy home-grown TV including the finest comedy and natural history programmes there are.

      Oh... I get it now. You hate the BBC because you want your beloved Apple to take over the world, so everyone can live in a shiny plastic utopian heaven, where we all worship Jobs, Cook and Ive.

      1. SuccessCase

        Re: BBC Death

        Anonymous Coward has rarely been such an appropriate term.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: BBC Death

        where we all worship Jobs, Cook and Ive.

        Assuming you mean Peter that might include me! ;-)

      3. td97402

        Re: BBC Death

        WHile I also have no use for most of the shows listed, Archer can be just hilarious, reminds of so many people these days that are into themselves, unwilling to work together, or even listen to one another.

    5. envmod

      Re: BBC Death

      completely agree - not sure why the downvotes...I think the audience on this site may be a, grey.

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: BBC Death

      The controversial point (in the UK anyway), is that this also removes the need for the BBC license fee model.

      Utter crap. Oh, and it's licence by the way. The reason why the licence model has been so successful is that it provides a certain degree of independence from the state, commerce and special interest groups (which would be the echo chamber of your subscribers).

      This doesn't alter the fact that the BBC has somewhat lost its way over the last decade (I still blame Greg Dyke for the dumbing down) and the problems the universal model (inform, educate and entertain) has when having to bid for things like rights to show football matches and, thus, diverting money away from other areas. But that is mainly a political issue with parliament able to decide which events should be universally (free to view) accessible.

  3. frank ly

    Human nature?

    "... with Apple engineers apparently upset by being leapfrogged by former Beats employees."

    We need you, with your technology, abilities, skills and experience, but you have to realise that we're more important than you and deserve the juicy positions and salaries.

    I've heard and seen that sort of attitide in many places.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I just kept reading 'a-la-cart' and couldn't take in any more. Could you correct it to 'à la carte' and I'll try again. it made me laugh that you spend time with students, and yet you can't spell. Hopefully you're not a French teacher.

  5. jzlondon


    It's annoying when I have to stop reading an article to Google acronyms. Not all of us know as much about the television market as you, so it would be really nice if you could expand the acronym the first time you use it.

    1. Peter Clarke 1

      Old TV Show

      If OTT is making a comeback from the 80s will Chris Tarrant still be hosting it??

      Betcha doing the full body poses- Google/youtube if you don't remember it

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Hellcat

    A lot of speculation and rumour in this Apple advert. Since its not in house, why was it included? Seems fairly weak journalism compared to El Reg's usual sharp attitude.

  7. Dave 126 Silver badge

    >A lot of speculation and rumour in this Apple advert.

    Speculation is pretty hard to avoid when one is, ahem, speculating about the future - the article was clearly tagged as 'Analysis'.

    Because 'Faultline' speculates about the near future of video content delivery, it has featured articles about hardware vendors such as Sony and Samsung, content producers as HBO and CBS, and network companies such as Cisco and Nokia... it would be odd if there wasn't a Faultline article about Apple given that they are an existing hardware player, have form for making deals with content providers, and have a shitload of cash. Yet strangely you accuse the article as being an advert for services that don't exist. Oh well.

    >Seems fairly weak journalism compared to El Reg's usual sharp attitude

    Pay attention. The Reg is sharp about Apple when discussing Apple hardware rumours (strange that you equate a lack of prejudice with weak journalism) when the article has no real importance. However, the Reg is even-handed when covering Apple in business news and product reviews.

  8. Douchus McBagg

    £99 here, $99 there

    is usually a staple carry-on item on those doing the atlantic mule run. stop in at best buy, and pick up a few apple tvs for people at work, family etc. £100 makes you think, £60 its a bit of a no brainer.

    get home, splat that front row nonsense, stick on XBMC and jobs-a-good-un.

    the pie is turning that trend. even cheaper, and can run vpn so xmbc can access your home media when your abroad. provided the hotel network can take it.

    yeah fine so apple sold 25m of the things, but how many are actually doing what apple wants them to do?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: £99 here, $99 there

      >yeah fine so apple sold 25m of the things, but how many are actually doing what apple wants them to do?

      Probably the majority of them... the type of people who are undaunted by installing XBMC on a box are the type who might explore other hardware options. In any case, if Apple do move in this direction their decision will be made based on data, data including the content consumption habits of Apple TV owners.

  9. Ian 62

    Too many providers

    The problem with OTT/streaming whatever content is that there are many providers with different distribution rights and content. Which are provided via different set top boxes or services.

    I shouldn't need to care which service I need to subscribe to so that I can see last years episodes of Homeland or whatever, then a different service for last weeks episodes of 24.

    I'd be happy for a single box, that gave me a single interface to all the providers, Amazon Prime, Apple, Sky+, Netflix, BBC, etc etc. So that when I search for a series I want it'll go and find which service its on, let me start watching it if I've already subscribed, or give me a 'Pay Now' option to start subscribing.

    Its not re-inventing the wheel, its not some miracle technology, it just needs someone thats good at packaging everything into a nice interface that works. Which Apple are actually good at. They could handle the billing for me (as they already do with Netflix), and even stick a banner at the top to say something like 'This stream provided by XYZ'.

    Time and again its been seen that people are happy to pay for content, IF its easy enough.

  10. alexmcm


    Having just read an article claiming Apple is working on its own car, and how Tesla and Apple keep stealing each others employees, I had the idea that Apple might be gearing up to just buy Tesla outright and have an immediate entry into the car industry.

    You know how Apple used to like to do unexpected things....

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like