Apple hires Amazon’s Fire TV boss as Apple TV leader

New Apple TV chief brings a lot of experience

Apple, AppleTV, TvOS, Amazon, television, Fire TV,  Tim Twerdahl
Credit: iFixIt

Apple has hired former head of Amazon’s Fire TV unit, Tim Twerdahl, who becomes a vice president at the firm, allegedly with responsibility for Apple TV product marketing.

Extensive experience

He will report to Apple’s VP iOS, iPad and iPhone product marketing, Greg Joswiak. Twerdahl’s LinkedIn page says he joined Apple this month.

Apple’s Peter Distad, who was in Twerdahl’s new role until now, has moved to work on Apple’s content team with Eddie Cue.

Twerdahl has heaps of relevant industry experience.

His name appears as the boiler plate quote in press releases from Amazon, Netflix, Roku, and WIMM Labs (he was a director or VP at all of those firms). He has extensive product development experience, with stints at Tapwave, Motorola, and Palm on his CV. He is also named on numerous patents, mainly in connection with Palm.

Think different

While most reports have focused on his leadership role on Amazon’s Fire TV unit, it is interesting to reflect on his wider experience across a huge range of mobile connected devices.

Beyond television, Twerdahl has extensive exposure in mobile, wearables, and more.

For example, WIMM Labs developed wearable tech that was later acquired by Google. The solution shared some ideas with early Apple Watch design.

"Screen size is getting smaller, yet access is more frequent," Twerdahl said. "Mobile form factors allow us to work anywhere, anytime, but we see a market that needs more streamlined, intuitive information delivery on the go."

Television is a mobile product

With the former head of the Apple TV product moving to dedicate more time to content acquisition, the company’s new hire also deepens the experience it can bring to bear on the sector.

Amazon Fire TV is often described as that company’s best-selling device.

Apple management blamed declining Apple TV sales for contributing to an 8 percent decline in “other” revenues category in the company’s last quarter.

While it’s easy to pigeonhole Apple TV as a media consumption device, it can be much more than that. Apple TV already runs as a HomeKit hub, and it remains to be seen in what ways Apple can extend the use and versatility of the box.

Tuning the channel

It is easy to speculate on some ways in which Apple might extend adoption of the product:

  • 4K content and a service to provide it
  • Rolling the AirPort product range into Apple TV
  • Extending and improving Siri support
  • Introduction of Siri-powered products to compete with Amazon’s popular Echo smart speaker systems.
  • Faster processors enabling more complex entertainment titles
  • VR/AR experiences

We already know Apple wants to secure deals to enable it to offer movies through iTunes at the same time as they debut in theaters, albeit at a hefty price. Peter Distad presumably is now attempting to secure such deals.

The possibility of movie subscription services to compete with Netflix, Hulu, or Prime in 4K may also tempt some users.

Further

It is lamentable that possession of a short attention span and limited historical literacy are skills that now appear to be much in demand among some in high office, those with a little more concentration may want to think about Apple's adventures in television a little more deeply.

Apple began working on television years before it introduced the first-generation Apple TV in 2007. The company's commitment to the medium hails to a previous Century.

Way back in 1994 Apple developed the Apple Interactive Television Box, which was kind of an early forerunner of TiVo for a pre-Internet era. That solution never shipped. In 1993 the company introduced the Macintosh TV.

More recently, QuickTime was arguably the first effective multimedia standard at a time when competing platforms could barely handle video at all, which is why it became part of MPEG-4/MP4 standards.

With this in mind, when Apple CEO, Tim Cook, refers to Apple TV as a “platform” your ears should wriggle:

“We started the new Apple TV a year ago, we’re pleased on how that platform has come along,” he said recently. “We have more things planned for it, but it’s come a long way in a year, and it gives us a clear platform to build off of.”

Where else can Apple's connected television platform go?

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