The Apple TV branding madness

You gotta feel for an average consumer who has to be nothing if not confused about the meaning of the “Apple TV” brand name. Is it just a media streamer or an app or both? if you suffix “Apple TV” with “+”, it becomes a brand name for a new video-streaming service from Apple. One thing is certain: Tim Cook & Co. surely aren’t making things any easier for non-techies who are left to figure this stuff out on their own.

Dustin Curtis spells it all out:

‪Apple TV is a hardware device.

‪Apple TV is an app on Apple TV that curates content you can buy from Apple and also content you can stream through other installed apps (but not all apps, and there is no way to tell which ones).

Apple TV is an app on iOS/iPadOS devices that operates similarly to the Apple TV app on the Apple TV box. Apple TV on iOS/iPadOS syncs playback and watch history with Apple TV on Apple TV, but only if the iOS/iPadOS device has the same apps installed as the Apple TV – and not all apps are available on all platforms.

Apple TV is also an app on macOS, but it does not show content that can only be streamed from external apps on an Apple TV or iOS/iPadOS device.

Apple’s naming issues don’t end there.

As Curtis explains, the Apple TV app on Apple’s platforms shows content from other installed apps on the device while its smart TV counterpart does not. And don’t get him started on Apple TVchannels, a feature of the Apple TV app that’s nowhere to be seen on non-Apple platforms.

Apple TV Channels can only be viewed within Apple TV; you cannot watch an Apple TV Channel service’s content on any non-Apple TV device, app, or the web.

However, if you subscribe to the same service within that service’s app or through a cable TV provider, you can watch that service’s content on other devices and apps and, if you use the service’s app on Apple TV or iOS/iPadOS, its content will show up in Apple TV as though you were subscribed to the service’s Apple TV Channel (but it will play the content in the app, not within Apple TV).

It’s chic to criticize the Cupertino tech giant for its increasingly confusing branding strategy that gave us “iPhone XS Max” and “Pro Display XDR”, but this is so much worse. Imagine you’re a non-techie type. You saw the ads promoting Apple TV+, read about the Apple TV app or maybe a friend recommended you purchase an Apple TV box.

How could you not be confused?

It used to be that Apple called the app on the actually Apple TV just “TV”, but at some point they started calling it “Apple TV”. Even more confusingly, the app icon on your iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV still says only “TV”. But make no mistake about it, the app’s called “Apple TV” — the official press release announcing Apple TV+ refers to the app as “Apple TV”, not “TV”.

I mean, even the Apple TV+ ads wrap up with a graphic that says, “Watch in the Apple TV app”.

Call me nit-picky all you want, but I’m convinced branding is in fact a big deal.

Plus, you don’t really need me to tell you that Apple has somehow managed to paint itself into a naming corner with this whole “Apple TV” branding madness.

Would you agree that the “Apple TV” branding causes confusion for the average user?

Let us know by leaving a comment down below.