Samsung has announced that their 2018 and 2019 TVs will be gaining an Apple iTunes app as well as support for AirPlay 2, the latest version of Apple’s proprietary casting protocol. This marks the first time that Apple iTunes content has ever been available on non-Apple hardware, outside of Windows PCs. If there ever has been an indicator that content is king and hardware is a distant second when it comes to streaming media, it is this new partnership.
Samsung TV owners will be able to stream their iTunes movie and TV show library directly through their smart TV interface without the need of an Apple TV. The iTunes app will be coming to existing 2018 Samsung TVs after a firmware update and will be included on 2019 Samsung TV models as well. The TVs will also serve as AirPlay receivers that will allow iPhones, iPads, and other Apple devices to wirelessly stream content to the TVs.
Apple has been investing heavily in the production of original content. With that investment, it’s more important to make that content available to as many people as possible then to sell Apple TVs, which explains this partnership with Samsung. This has long been Amazon’s strategy with Fire TVs, which are essentially priced at cost or less, with the intent that content sales will make up the difference. Roku is adopting a similar strategy with The Roku Channel which appears to be on the road to becoming their primary source of revenue, now that they’re making more from content than from hardware.
Samsung TVs run Samsung’s own Tizen operating system, so it’s a strange platform for Apple to adopt. Samsung is also a proponent of HDR10+ over Dolby Vision, so it will be interesting to see if Apple begins offering their content in the alternate HDR format. While Samsung competes with Apple on hardware, they don’t sell or produce their own content, so it’s a less competitive platform for Apple to be on then something like Android TV devices or Fire TVs, but we’ll see if Apple makes the leap on to other devices in the future.