Netflix has just eliminated support for the AirPlay 2 protocol in its iOS apps, arguing a technical discrepancy. With this decision, users of an iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lose a feature that has been present since 2013 .
Limiting the experience of using Netflix on Apple’s platforms is quite reminiscent of the situation we experienced many years ago with Google Maps. One in which Apple decided to intervene and launch its own mapping app. Let’s see what the similarities are in both cases.
When Google decided to retain improvements in Maps
Since the launch of the original iPhone, Google has had a surprising presence in its software. The search engine had two apps installed as standard on each terminal: Maps and YouTube. Apple controlled its interface, but the service was provided by Google. This situation was maintained and later expanded to the iPod touch and the iPad.
However, by the time Google launched Android and started to gain commercial space, Apple noticed how its mapping app was at a disadvantage. While the Android app was gaining important features such as step-by-step routes, voice navigation or route recalculation , its iOS version was stagnating.
Over time, we have learned that Google was demanding access to more data from iOS users, something that Apple was adamantly opposed to. In Cupertino they were at a crossroads: succumbing to Google’s demands and opening a dangerous door for others to put the user experience first or opting for building a mapping service from scratch , with an obvious risk in the user experience.
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As we know, in 2012 and with iOS 6 Apple opted for the second option in a chapter that we baptized five years ago as a Giant’s Struggle. It ran the risk of having a worse usage experience than at that time, but in the long run it proved to be the right decision. Shortly after, Google released its own app in iOS and regularly incorporated improvements, including those it initially refused to provide without a fee.
With Apple Maps the company had to apologize in public, but in the long run it turned out to be the right decision
We users suffer the first few months. But after much work and several years later, Apple Maps has established itself as a fairly serious alternative to Google’s. So much so, that it is beginning to rival it in use in some countries.
Now we have two great options to get directions to our destination, when before we only had one. It is inevitable to remember this affair now that Netflix has made the decision to remove support for AirPlay 2.
When Netflix decides to remove iOS enhancements
Some consider that there is no major problem in removing the function since, as the company indicates, there is an app for Apple TV. Discussions about its quality and the absence of separate style guides, the ability to broadcast content from an iPhone to an Apple TV is a function widely used by some . Especially when traveling and going to a hotel where there is an Apple TV or when you go to a family member or friend’s house with this device. It saves you from having to enter your credentials to view the content.
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As John Gruber indicated a few days ago, the technical excuse seems more like something that they don’t want to do, rather than something that they can’t do. Whatever the motivation, the truth is that we are back to what we experienced with Google Maps: a competitor limiting the experience on the apple devices on purpose.
The fierceness of streaming services of all kinds leads them to seek ways to grow at all costs, even putting their existing customers at risk
Netflix and other large services like Spotify that take advantage of the App Store to build their businesses have come into conflict with Apple. Mainly for the user control exercised by the apple and the commission charged to users who pay through the App Store (30% the first year, 15% the following years). This is the reason why Netflix has decided to close the registration of new users through Apple devices, leaving its website as the only way. Something you have the perfect right to do.
However, the removal from AirPlay 2 support may be an indicator of Netflix’s intentions. The service might try to tighten relationships with the apple to gain some bargaining power, in a delicate balance with the user experience (and its more than possible drop from the service).
Apple Music and Apple TV+: cutting through the clutter
Apple learned the lesson many years ago with Microsoft. The company founded by Bill Gates had essential software (Office) without which a platform like the Mac lost value. As they say colloquially, Microsoft had the upper hand . Steve Jobs got Gates to invest money in Apple in the late 90s, committed to having it on the Mac in exchange for withdrawing their legal disputes at that time and having Internet Explorer on the Mac as the default browser.
Later, Apple developed its own office suite and browser: iWork and Safari. The result worked out well, but they ran a tremendous risk to the survival of the company. In Cupertino they learned their lesson and tattooed it on their skin. Never let a significant piece of software be in the hands of a third party. The same could be said now with services like Spotify and Netflix.
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Music and audiovisual content are apparently very similar services, but they have fundamental differences. A user may want to listen to the same album or song over and over again, while the same does not happen with a series or movie. When you watch a series, keeping it in the catalog is of no value to you ; keeping an album is, because if you like it you’ll want to listen to it again.
That’s why Apple has put its own music services, series and movies on the table but with different approaches. Apple Music made its debut in 2015 with a catalog of tens of millions of songs, without which could not have faced Spotify . Apple TV+, on the other hand, will bet at the end of this year on quality instead of quantity in its own content, completing the offer with those services that have decided to be integrated into the platform.
Apple’s new services are not only a way to grow the business but to defend it against the influence of others
In addition, Apple TV+ will save the service provider from having to develop, test, launch and maintain its own native app. By integrating with the Apple platform, the experience will be far superior on all devices. Those who have tried HBO, Prime Video or Netflix apps themselves will know that this will be an improvement.
Thanks to these two services, Apple is in a much more advantageous position than in the late 1990s. On the side of Apple Music, it has a music service on Android, the iPhone and iPad, but also on the Mac, CarPlay, the Apple TV and the Apple Watch. It is on these last two platforms that Spotify has been dragging its feet without any impediment from the apple (although they do the Swedish ). And for the Apple TV+ it will be integrated into iOS, macOS and Apple TV, as well as other intelligent televisions.
Without a doubt, this new push in Apple’s services is a way not only to grow the business but to build firewalls to the influence of services with great weight among the public.
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