Apple held its much-hyped launch extravaganza on March 25th from its own theatre in California, where CEO Tim Cook made clear from the outset that the event would be about new services, not devices.
Apple TV+ had to wait behind the new News+ (a library of 300+ glossy magazines); Pay (a new Apple credit card); and Apple Arcade (a virtual arcade that will offer 100+ exclusive games, all playable offline) before being unveiled by legendary Hollywood director Steven Spielberg.
The new streaming service is, of course, an app. It brings together all the channels made available, has cross device play and intelligent personalised recommendation. The presentation looked like dozens we’ve all seen, but we can assume Apple does it all really well.
Deals have been done with a number of cable packages, including Spectrum, Hulu, HBO, Prime and ESPN+ and more. All shows across all channels are available through the favourites and recommendations etc.
The app will be made available on rival devices for the first time, with launches planned on Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio smart TVs as well as Amazon’s Firestick and Roku devices.
Oprah Winfrey was also introduced to the stage to much fanfare. She revealed she is working on two exclusive documentaries for the Apple TV+ service, as well as a project she referred to as “the most stimulating book club on the planet”.
Referring to Apple iPhones, Winfrey commented that “they’re in a billion pockets, folks. The whole world’s got them in its hand, and that represents a major opportunity.” She added she wanted to present “meaningful ways to create positive change” and “illuminate consciousness”.
There was no shortage of more A-list names. The likes of Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell, Jason Mamoa, Kumail Nanjiani, JJ Abrams and even Sesame Street‘s Big Bird took to the stage to hype various exclusive content they would be involved in.
Apple TV+ will be an ad free service, everything will be available for offline viewing, and new content will be added every month. The service will roll out in some 1000 countries in the austumn. No pricing were revealed.
Following the unveiling, Apple shares fell by almost 2 per cent whilst Netflix shares rose.
Reviewing the announcements, TMT analyst Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight, said it represented a landmark moment for Apple with a major event solely focused on services.
“It underlines a growing and strong focus on services as a future source of revenue growth. In essence Apple is seeking to become a Netflix of everything in services; music, news and magazines, video and games.”
“We are now in a golden era of storytelling. Content and media owners are crying out for eyeballs. More so as they’ve been slow to embrace online distribution. Apple represents a key partner for them in reaching new audiences at scale across numerous devices.”
“The roll out of new subscription based services paves the way for the introduction of new business models such as all you can eat bundles like Amazon Prime. In the future we might even see users pay for a service bundle and receive a new iPhone every year.”
“Apple Arcade is a noble effort but will take time to evolve. Support among leading game publishers will be key to its success. Expect this new service to feature prominently across all Apple channels.”
“Apple credit card will strongly resonate with users. It will be highly sought after, especially the lure of free cash every day. This move will shake up the credit card industry leading to casualities.”
“The stronger revamped video service somewhat mirrors the strategy of rivals. These latest moves takes Apple TV closer to a one stop shop destination for consumers with live TV, on demand and Apple’s own original shows in one place.”
“The new Apple TV+ promises to reinvent TV with great storytelling. Strong endorsement among key talent is impressive and will allow Apple to connect with viewers.”
“It is a great time to be a content and owner. The value is firmly in great storytelling.”
“Content aggregation is the holy grail. There is too much fragmentation in video/TV. No one wants to sign up to different services and have numerous apps. It is a disastrous experience.”
“Beyond having the right content, the user experience is key. This means getting the content people want in one place, with one bill, universal search and all that jazz. In reality this is hard to achieve as typically half of a household wants sport and the other half want entertainment, movies and kids shows.”
“Netflix has done a great job to date. However, more content and media owners will pull programming off its offering. This represents a significant opportunity for the likes of Apple who has scale and greater resources.”
“There are too many players chasing too few dollars. The market will evolve towards a handful of players in the future,” he predicted.