Will Apple TV Get the Same Human Curation as Apple Music?

Jimmy Iovine said in a recent Wired interview that he's got his hands full focusing on music, but he did mention a little bit about potential upgrades to Apple TV. Iovine is a music industry legend, although behind the scenes, so many people may not know him. They will get a chance to learn more about Iovine as well as Dr. Dre during this summer's Straight Outta Compton N.W.A. biopic. Ironically, while most folks were focusing on Donald Trump's performance during the Republican debate, I noticed two Apple-centric commercials that ran during the event, one for the Compton movie and the other for the next Steve Jobs movie.

Iovine's role in Dr. Dre's career, the starting of Beats by Dr. Dre (along with Monster, who is now suing Beats), the sale of Beats to Apple and now his role in Apple Music, is worth telling in a movie. I was there, seven years ago, in the Monster press conference at CES in Las Vegas. Noel Lee, the "Head Monster" rolled up on his Segway and introduced Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, along with the Beats brand. Dr. Dre had been pitched the idea of adding his brand to sneakers, and Iovine thought about it and said "Not sneakers... SPEAKERS!" and a multi-billion-dollar brand was born.

This demonstrates how Iovine thought differently, just as Apple encourages. He is bringing this to Apple Music. For years, Apple's solution to curated music involved algorithms like Genius to figure out what songs you might like (and might like to buy) based on your history and purchases. Iovine is a fan of human curation and while competitors also offer that, he feels Apple can trump them thanks to Apple's scale. As he says in the interview "Algorithms are great but they're very limited in what they can do as far as playing songs and playing a mood.... And a lot of these companies they just go and hire somebody who used to work in the record business 25 years ago. Well, great. You have one person. We have hundreds.... We have one of the great tech companies of all time building what we need."

Apple will be leveraging people to curate Apple Music on a scale most others could not. Iovine says "Curation is a big thing to us, and no one is going to be able to catch us or do it better." As the conversation switches to television, he says "I'll tell you man, right now, this is so daunting that I can't even think about anything else." But he does have some thoughts on TV, namely "we all know one thing, we all have different television delivery systems, don't we all wish that the delivery systems were better, as far as curation and service? They're all technically good. And Netflix is starting to cross the code because they're starting to make some original content. It is really good, but still I mean none of us make movies here right, so we're all punters, or what do you call them in the music business, fans right? We want to watch movies. Sit down with your girlfriend or a bunch of friends and try to find a movie online. That box helps you none—it doesn't help. You're on your own. And eventually that will catch them unless somebody digs in and really helps the customer. And entertainment needs that, it needs to live and breathe."

Everyone knows that TV is in need of curation. The traditional TV channels are not "curated" but assembled by corporations and one hour they could have sports, the next news, the next comedy. Imagine "DJs" for television (or "VJs" as MTV used to have) that geared content to your likes. Apple just needs to find a Jimmy Iovine of the television world. Or a few hundred of them.

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.