It doesn't make sense for Apple to make TV shows. Reverse-engineering content to fill up space on someone's screen is not an inspired strategy.
But that's apparently what the company plans to do: It will deploy a $1 billion collection of original video content, outlets like The Wall Street Journal reported recently.
There are tools on the iPhone that have been successful in promoting high-quality, mainstream content in creative ways — they're called Snapchat and Instagram. In short, there's nothing special about providing consumers more to consume, especially when companies like Amazon have built their entire businesses on it.
I hope Apple takes this opportunity do more. At the wizened age of 25, I'm just old enough to remember when computers were primarily used for making things, instead of just passively consuming content.
There are many areas of content today that are clunky, geeky fledglings — the kind of products that Apple is famous for democratizing. And with a world-class team of Hollywood producers and technologists at its disposal, Apple could usher in a new era of media where every iPhone user is not just reacting to content in a feed, but actively engaged in creating high-quality works of art.
Virtual reality is an obvious choice, although the technology might be a little too new to be simplified into a platform that fits on an iPhone. But better 360-degree video would be an easy place to start.
As Snapchat has shown, there are many ambient experiences that can be built into messaging through augmented reality. Those could be amplified into multi-sensory experiences by connecting to Apple's headphones, watches or smart home devices. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested, one day people might be able to see a private graffiti or art installation created entirely through mixed reality technology.
There are also new immersive storytelling mediums that engage users, rather than pacify them. Apps like Hooked deliver narratives through messages, letting users become part of the story. And Apple has a very robust set of flashy interactive messaging tools.
Episodic video games like Life is Strange are another interesting and underutilized format, where the player helps determine the twists and turns of a drama in an organic way. So many other art forms, like 3-D printing and crowdsourced journalism, have fizzled because they weren't delivered in a consumer-friendly way or at scale — at least, not yet.
This may read like a sci-fi wish list. But in many ways, it's existential. Apple may be at risk of losing the creativity that buoyed its brand if it doesn't act soon.