This story was originally published on March 22 and updated on March 25.
Apple (AAPL) on Monday unveiled its much-anticipated video streaming service Apple TV Plus, as well as its Apple News Plus news subscription and Apple Arcade gaming services during an event at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.
The charge into the video streaming market with Apple TV Plus comes as iPhone sales have slowed and user upgrade cycles have become longer. Services are seen as the new way forward for Apple, and the streaming initiative will play a major role in the company’s evolution.
Apple News Plus, meanwhile, will let users read unlimited articles from several publishers including National Geographic, Popular Science, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and more for a single monthly fee. Apple Arcade will be a standalone games subscription service that will provide users with the latest premium game titles for a single fee.
The future will be streamed
Apple TV Plus was the highlight of the roughly two-hour long show. The service — which will be available later this fall but still doesn’t have a price — will feature series from a slew of major Hollywood heavyweights including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, J.J Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, and more.
The service will be available through the Apple TV app, which Apple also announced is coming to third-party smart TVs and streaming devices. That move on its own is a major departure for Apple, which has kept its video offering as an exclusive for Apple users.
But by expanding the service to more customers, Apple dramatically increases its chances of success in the streaming market.
The company announced a host of new shows including two documentaries from Winfrey and a series from Spielberg.
But Apple’s biggest competitors include a who’s who of major streaming companies such as Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN), Hulu, and others. The streaming space is also about to get a lot more crowded with companies like Disney and NBC preparing to launch their own streaming services.
Apple, however, has an ace up its sleeve. The Apple TV app is already preinstalled on hundreds of millions of iOS device. Competitors, meanwhile, need to get users to download and install their apps — a friction point that cuts down on the number of consumers who eventually sign up for those offerings.
Investors are pegging this streaming service as a make or break moment for Apple’s future. With iPhone sales disappointing in the previous quarter and services revenue on the rise, the streaming service could play a pivotal part in the company’s transformation.
Apple News Plus
Apple News Plus was the company’s second major announcement of the show. The service, which costs $9.99 per month, provides you with living front page images of specific magazines. You can see tons of magazines from an assortment of publishers.
Apple News Plus will also include digital subscriptions for services like Vulture, TechCrunch, The Cut, and others, as well as The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Apple downloads groups of articles from its services, and then uses your device to determine what you like the most. Apple says that this ensures that they never see what you read, and that advertisers will never know what you read, so your history won’t follow you across the web.
Apple, however, has reportedly received some significant pushback from publishers because of the tech company’s proposed revenue split for the service.
The Wall Street Journal says that Apple is seeking to split fees 50/50 between itself and publishers. That could be especially problematic for publishers at a time when newsrooms across the country are making drastic cuts, leaving skeleton crews to research, write, edit, and publish stories.
Publishers also reportedly took issue with the fact that Apple won’t be sharing credit card information or email addresses, something The Journal says organizations would need to build out their customer lists.
In an interview with Reuters, New York Times (NYT) CEO Mark Thompson warned publishers about working with Apple on the new initiative, explaining how they could end up losing control of their own product.
What’s more, a $9.99 per month subscription to Apple’s news service would undercut the monthly fees charged by major publishers, meaning they’d earn less money per subscriber right off the bat. Cut that reduced revenue in half, and you’re looking at potentially huge losses for media organizations.
Apple also announces it is partnering with Goldman Sachs for its new Apple Card, which is accepted everywhere that takes Apple Pay. You can sign up for the card through your iPhone and begin using it almost immediately.
The company says Apple Card will work with Apple Wallet to provide you with information live your balance, when your payments are due, and your transactions.
You get 2% back on every purchase you make with the card. And with purchases made directly through Apple, you’ll get 3% cash back. Daily Cash is unlimited so you don’t have to worry about hitting a cap.
Apple says it will use machine learning to provide you with a more accurate picture of what you’re spending on, rather than the usual opaque transaction descriptions most credit cards provide you with.
Keeping in line with Apple’s privacy push, the company said that it will never be able to see what you use the Apple Card to purchase items, and Goldman Sachs won’t sell your information to advertisers.
In instances when you go to a store that doesn’t have an Apple Pay reader, the company will be offering a physical credit card. That, however, will only get 1% Daily Cash back.
Apple Arcade will give people access to more than 100 games with a single paid subscription. Apple didn’t give out pricing details, but said that the service will be available later this fall.
During its announcement, Apple showed off a slew of games that developers say wouldn’t normally be supported by mainstream game publishers.
Apple says that each subscription will let you download and play games from the App Store. The games will be available on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. The company also says that all of the games will be playable offline. That’s a huge benefit to gamers, as many mobile games force you to stay online to play.
Importantly, the games coming to Apple Arcade look like legitimate game offerings, rather than titles built to siphon off you money with in-app purchases. In fact, Apple says that none of its games will require in-app purchases for additional content or add-ons.
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