Will theaters survive Apple?
Apple is pursuing Hollywood to provide it early access to its movies, very soon after the release, a move that would indeed bolster its iTunes business. And with 21st Century Fox Inc., Warner Bros. and Comcast Corp.’s aligned interest to offer high-priced access to its recent releases, we might soon be able to experience the movies out of theaters, on our portable devices.
Looking from Apple’s perspective, if the deal pans out, this might be the next big thing for them. With the recent dip in excitement over its other devices Apple might do very well with this new feature, and again get back on the horse to join the others in the exploding streaming video market propelled by Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The move makes Apple a part of the race, and yet not in competition with the other big players, a very strategic move on the part of Apple.
While its so-called future competitors have placed themselves to gain from the long tail , Apple is planning to dive heads-on into the head of the market, a move that might not elicit a response from the established giants.
Now that we have established that it is indeed a good move for Apple, I wonder what is its impact on the theaters. How will the cozy brick and mortar monstrosities keep up with the idea of watching the latest releases in the comfort of homes, flooded by cheap and favorite food items.
The surge of cheaper online viewing has been posing a threat to the theaters in terms of changing the viewing habits of consumers. Theaters will find it increasingly difficult to recover their huge fixed cost of maintaining the empty halls, and huge staff-base.
If they are to survive, theaters need to change the parameters of the game and differentiate themselves.
I would at this moment try to draw your attention to the “jobs-to-be-done” concept by a brilliant man Clayton Christensen, and I wonder — what jobs do theaters want to be doing?
In my view, not many people go to theaters to watch movies. They go to the movie theaters to spend a day out — have a nice dinner, then watch a nice movie passing on the huge tub of cheese popcorn, and muttering comments to the friends sitting in the adjacent seats. Movie theaters are not a search goods, rather an experiential one.
Theaters, with their expensive popcorn and food counter in the halls have been trying to build up the experience for its target customers, but maybe the need to do more — place themselves closer to the job that the theaters do for its consumers and device its experience to encapsulate the whole experience of the “people’s day out”!