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Apple’s latest hire proves the company is serious about competing with Netflix

Published Jan 29th, 2020 7:38PM EST
Apple Vs Netflix
Image: XanderSt/Shutterstock

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Over the past few years, there’s been an ongoing debate as to whether or not Netflix should be viewed as a tech company or an entertainment company. The issue, however, is anything but black and white. If anything, the reality is that Netflix is a little bit of both. While the streaming giant is obviously known for rolling out more original content than any one person can keep up with in a lifetime, the company simultaneously invests a lot of money towards ensuring that its platform can handle immense demand and deliver high-quality media with minimal lag.

To this point, we highlighted the following just a few months ago:

Netflix’s compression technology ensures that subscribers can enjoy content with few, if any, performance hiccups. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for HBO’s mobile apps which tend to get stuck buffering far too often. As a point of interest, it’s worth noting that Netflix also takes measures to ensure that its content looks just as good on high-end HDTVs as it does on laptop displays and a wide variety of smartphones.

Put simply, the technology that powers Netflix’s various apps ensures an enjoyable user experience across the board.

All that said, The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple recently poached one of Netflix’s top engineers as it plans to significantly boost its streaming offerings in the months and years ahead.

Ruslan Meshenberg, who helped build out Netflix’s platform and was involved in key initiatives to create a speedier, more consistent service for viewers, joined Apple’s internet-services organization this week, according to people familiar with the hire and his social-media accounts. He joins Apple at the same time it is expanding its $4.99-a-month TV+ service with other new hires, additional shows and movies—a complex undertaking that has tripped up other entrants into the video-streaming business.

While Apple’s current slate of TV offerings is minimal — which is a generous characterization in and of itself — there have been rumblings that Apple is in the market for a huge acquisition. Most recently, word surfaced that Apple has been contemplating a massive deal that would see them pick up MGM, an acclaimed studio with franchises like James Bond under its belt.

It stands to reason that it’s only a matter of time before Apple truly shores up its streaming options. Indeed, it will have no choice to do so if it truly wants to compete with media giants like HBO and Netflix. And when that happens, Apple will certainly want to avoid any number of usability issues.

Though Apple TV+ hasn’t had serious issues since its launch, Mr. Meshenberg has the experience to help Apple address technical challenges. At Netflix, he ran much of the infrastructure that guaranteed television shows and movies played reliably, even as the company expanded to more than 50 countries and streaming increased to more than one billion hours of programming weekly.

All told, Apple poaching Meshenberg points to Apple’s focus and intention on eventually making a big splash in the streaming space.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.