What happens when tech companies make television shows

Short version: It's not good. Apple's Planet of the Apps is not exactly popcorn-friendly.

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Agam Shah

It looks like Apple has brought out all of the stars for their new television show, called Planet of the Apps. Yes, that’s Jessica Alba acting like a Shark, Gwyneth Paltrow feigning interest in an app, and Gary Vaynerchuk chewing out a developer about a business model.

Watching the trailer today made me gag a little.

I’m a big fan of everything Apple makes, except for the Apple Watch, that weird iPhone case with the obnoxious bump, and now this series that looks like an infomercial that’s disguising itself as actual entertainment. When you watch the trailer, you realize that this is a company that already dominates the mobile app landscape along with Google. Making a show about developers coming up with app ideas and then getting investment money seems a little odd.

Here’s what it would be like if another company did that. Let’s say Ford decided to make a TV show. Maybe the contestants get to choose a new paint color for an upcoming vehicle like the Expedition. OK, sure. You can imagine what that would be like. Multiple shots of the new car. People looking at the new car. The new car driving up the red carpet. The new car hanging out at the bar.

You get the idea. It’s all about the new car.

Or what about a Microsoft Surface show? Designers, tasked with making a new logo for an upcoming hardware product, are locked away in a room with the Surface Studio, all with the one goal of...making sure there are multiple shots of the Studio in dim lighting as they work hard on their new designs and try really hard to act serious and concerned.

When someone told me Apple was going to make a show, my first thought was -- OK, it will be an actual show ala Netflix or Hulu. I thought, the worst it could possibly get would be the Apple logo coming up before the show starts. The trailer for the new show makes it all look cheesy and inauthentic. Are they trying to appeal to Millennials by having every one of the app developers look like they are fresh out of college? You might want to try not making an infomercial. If anything doesn't work for Millennials, it's cheesy.

I’m also a little surprised these celebs agreed to be hosts. At any point during the making of the show, do you think any of them started wondering if perhaps the company behind the show (that would be Apple) was trying to get people to think more about apps? Did it occur to them that they were not in a real show with actual drama, but more of a fake show with fake drama?

HP at least made an infomercial with Christian Slater that looks like a commercial, even if the entire segment has the feel of an NBC drama. I’m not saying I watched the entire series (it’s in four parts for a total of around six minutes) but it looks like it’s trying to be cheeky. And, it looks like it’s also trying to sell some printers, and I get that. It’s an infomercial.

Apple, the entire concept of making original shows or movies is suspect. You’re not Universal. You’re not HBO. You're not even Hulu.

We’re fine watching entertainment on our phones and tablets, but being an amazing tech company and gadget innovator does not mean you are Steven Spielberg.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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