Apple debuted its first TV series, Planet of the Apps, on Tuesday, and guess what? The first episode was actually good!
In the show, entrepreneurs pitch the apps they’ve built to a panel of judges made up of Gary Vaynerchuk, Honest co-founder Jessica Alba, Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow and will.i.am, who is involved with a few tech companies.
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The first half of the pilot follows the Shark Tank format: The contestants introduce themselves and their apps to the panel. The difference here is they have 60 seconds to do so in an “escalator pitch” — in which they literally ride down an escalator. The judges then use iPads to vote on whether they’d like to learn more about each given app. If at least one judge does, the contestant presents further. If one of the judges is still interested after this second round, the entrepreneur can choose which leader they’d like to have as a mentor.
For me, the nice thing about watching Planet of the Apps was that the judges’ feedback always aligned with my thoughts. Only three concepts made it to the next round — one failed in the second round — while the judges swiftly passed over most of the others. And I didn’t question those decisions.
During the second half of the show, the entrepreneurs behind the two apps that were chosen, Pair and Companion, discussed next steps with their partners, Alba and Vaynerchuk, respectively. The advice was stock for any frequent readers of Entrepreneur — know what the value of your product is, look at it from all angles, understand what makes it different from the competition — but the judges delivered it intelligently and entertainingly. If this show proves anything, it’s that Alba has serious business chops.
In the final segment of the show, the entrepreneurs pitch a panel of venture capitalists from Lightspeed Venture Partners with their mentors at their side.
Because the first episode is free, I definitely recommend giving it a watch if the concept strikes your fancy. But in terms of its mass appeal, I have my doubts. As opposed to Shark Tank, which features pitches for general consumer goods, Planet of the Apps strictly focuses on programs that run on mobile devices. I suspect most people just don’t care about apps outside of the most popular ones we all use consistently.
I also have my doubts about the show’s potential reach because of its limited distribution. Since it’s an Apple-produced series, it’s only available via iTunes, and you have to pay to watch. This limits its potential audience severely.
We’ll just have to wait and see if Planet of the Apps can escape these limitations.