Apple Hires Amazon’s Fire TV Head to Run Apple TV Business

  • Former Amazon executive also held roles at Netflix and Roku
  • The hire lets company to beef up team seeking content deals

Why Apple Poached Amazon TV Exec

Apple Inc. has hired Timothy D. Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV unit, as a vice president in charge of Apple TV product marketing and shifted the executive who previously held the job to a spot negotiating media content deals.

The moves suggest a renewed focus on the Apple TV and on providing more content for the device, an effort that has been stalled in the past by failed negotiations.

Twerdahl joined Apple this month, a spokesman for the iPhone maker said. He had been general manager and director of Amazon’s Fire TV business since 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile. At Apple, Twerdahl reports to Greg Joswiak, a vice president in charge of marketing for the iPhone, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Apple TV represents a slice of the company’s “other products,” revenue category, which generated just more than 5 percent of Apple’s sales in fiscal 2016. The last hardware update for the set-top device was released in 2015, but sales decreased year-over-year from the 2015 holiday quarter to the 2016 holiday quarter, Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said last week in an interview. Amazon doesn’t disclose Fire TV sales, but last May called it the top-selling streaming media device in the U.S.

Twerdahl’s hiring frees Pete Distad, who previously occupied the role, to help lead Apple’s content deal efforts, headed by Eddy Cue, the person added. Distad joined Apple in 2013 after serving as a senior vice president of content distribution at video streaming service Hulu.

The Fire TV and Apple TV are among set-top devices that can stream video content and apps to large TV screens. Both boxes are known for their voice control functionality and integration with their respective companies’ larger services. Amazon’s Prime video service is key to the Fire TV, while the iTunes Store and App Store are core to Apple’s offering.

Twerdahl comes to Apple with significant experience in internet-connected TV devices. Prior to his tenure at Amazon, he was an executive at Netflix Inc. and later a vice president in charge of consumer devices at Roku, a streaming video box developer. Twerdahl’s experience could bolster Apple’s efforts in video content and living room devices at a time when the company is looking for new categories of revenue to augment iPhone and iPad sales.

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