Jay Z, Apple TV: Tim Cook Needs to Get His Head Out of His ...

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In last week's Will Apple Ever Release a New Product I buried the lead.

The question -- What the hell happened to Apple (AAPL) TV? -- must come to the forefront. It's shocking that few people press Cook on the issue. Steve Jobs had things figured out, yet the living room remains an area of interest, according to Cook.

Innovation at Apple these days equals the SVP of Worldwide Marketing cursing in a room of Kool-Aid drinkers about a product that hasn't even been released yet and, relatively speaking, nobody will buy.

Then, there's this ...

Not necessarily a game changer? Not at all. Not for Samsung. Not for Apple. It's one of those things we must consider in the big picture for both companies going forward.

My friend on Twitter, Nick Cicero called it "lifestyle marketing."

Here's the deal.

Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. Nobody is. So, yes, without a doubt, Apple must change. It has to. Because it can't be the same way it was under Jobs. That's just not possible.

But change is not dividends and buybacks, an iPhone trade-in program, different size iPhones, multi-color iPhones and the false bravado we saw at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple must honestly consider what it lost when Steve Jobs went away and change in these areas.

While it can still advertise on the back cover of magazines -- as it always has, with or without Jobs-- it can no longer get on the front cover. At least not the way it once did. Fortune's Adam Lashinsky wrote about this in his book, Inside Apple. Jobs took care of getting Apple the priceless and free advertising appearances on the front cover bring. Practically anybody can buy space on the back of the magazine; getting on the front cover consistently takes something special.

As such, in the absence of this, Apple needs to think different. How do we create the spectacle like Jobs used to, but in our own way? That's what Jobs meant when he (reportedly) said, Don't ask what I would do, just do what's right. He didn't mean, throw everything I built the company on out the window and do it your way.

The Samsung move with Jay Z gets the company the type of front cover exposure Apple no longer commands. And, in the long run, in conjunction with everything else going on, it's a net positive for Samsung and a big negative for Apple.

Similar situation with Apple TV. Jobs's exit leaves a massive and horribly obvious hole few people, particularly the folks at Apple and the company's most ardent supporters, want to talk about.

We kindly accept Cook's "area of interest" talking point. We blindly buy the story that Apple just can't get anywhere with the big content owners. We give them a pass. Like, yeah, well, those old content guys are tough to deal with, so no surprise Apple can't make this happen. Please.

I'm not convinced that when Steve Jobs said he figured things out in the living room, he meant let's embark on the impossible (and brainless) task of committing to buy billions of dollars' worth of television programming from an industry that has tons of leverage over us. No. Not at all. I think he meant let's build another kick-ass, game-changing piece of hardware. An actual television set that will take everything Samsung has done and make it look like a freaking Sony Walkman.

But, with this almost constant talk about software and services, that's one thing we don't hear about much anymore at Apple. Hardware. Sure, we'll get MacBook Airs that you never have to plug in and a powerful desktop tower about 0.00005% of the population kind of, sort of needs. But will we ever get the type of earth-shattering, industry-shaking, consumer-hypnotizing products that turned Apple into the company we can talk about every single day, multiple times, and still have room for more?

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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