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Apple Hires Timothy Twerdahl, Former GM of Amazon Fire TV, to Run Apple TV Marketing

Timothy Twerdahl, who led Amazon’s Fire TV set-top group for almost four years, has joined Apple as a vice president — where he will head up marketing for Apple TV, Bloomberg reported.

Apple and Amazon reps did not respond to requests for comment.

Twerdahl, who’s also worked in senior roles at Roku, Netflix and Motorola, joined Apple in the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this month, according to his LinkedIn profile. At Apple, Twerdahl reports to Greg Joswiak, VP of iPhone and iOS product marketing, per the Bloomberg report.

Apple hasn’t disclosed sales volumes for Apple TV since March 2015, when the company said it had shipped more than 25 million of the devices worldwide to date. The first Apple TV was launched in 2007, and the tech giant rolled out the current fourth-generation version of the set-top in the fall of 2015. The Apple TV costs $150 with 32 gigabytes of storage or $200 with 64 GB.

But in past year, Apple TV has struggled to grow. There were 20.5 million Apple TV users in the U.S. as of October 2016, and that’s projected to grow to just 25.8 million by 2020, according to estimates from research firm eMarketer. Apple TV has been hampered by its relatively high price and lack of support for Amazon Video and Spotify, the researcher said.

By contrast, the $90 Amazon Fire TV — Twerdahl’s former baby — is the fastest-growing connected-TV device in the market, and in 2017 will surpass Roku in terms of users, according to eMarketer’s forecasts. Fire TV is expected to nearly double its installed base by 2020, to capture 27% U.S. market share versus Google’s Chromecast at 29.5%, Roku at 22.7% and Apple TV at 12.8%.

Meanwhile, Twerdahl comes to Apple amid its ongoing feud with Amazon over digital video and devices. In the fall of 2015, Amazon stopped selling Apple TVs (as well as Chromecast dongles) and instead displays Fire TV in search results. The e-commerce company said that’s because it wants to feature only streaming devices that “interact well” with Amazon Prime Video, but the standoff may have more to do with Amazon balking at the app store policies of Apple and Google.

With Twerdahl’s hire, Pete Distad — the exec who has led Apple TV marketing since joining from Hulu in 2013 — will shift to focus to content deals under Eddy Cue, SVP of internet software and services, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source. Apple has embarked on a new effort to procure or produce original scripted TV shows and possibly movies for the Apple Music subscription service, according to a Wall Street Journal report last month.

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