This week, Apple presented its Spring “Apple Event”. While previous “Events” have historically focused on product releases/updates in the Fall/Autumn, Apple took a cue from the traditional broadcast market to showcase its announcements in content development, subscription services and Apple Pay prior to the upfront season.
Details & Implications:
Apple TV+: Apple TV+ is a new Apple Originals-focused OTT (over the top) subscription service. Kicking off the presentation with Steven Spielberg and ending with Oprah, it is clear that Apple has committed to working with the best in the business for premium content. Whilst the content looks compelling, it maybe lacks the impact of well-known content brands such as House of Cards or The Handmaid’s Tale. Apple will need a hit anchor show to create a subscriber base. The service will launch in the Fall/Autumn and pricing is still to be confirmed.
Apple TV App: Apple TV has historically been a hardware device that connects to TVs. This May, Apple TV will extend as a standalone app, delivering a seamless, curated TV experience and will eventually be available across many non-Apple devices including Samsung Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, LG and Sony and VIZIO platforms. The app will allow users to pay for specific channels or content providers through the Apple Store. The goal for the platform is for an unbundled experience, where users only pay for channels they use, however, initial channel offerings are limited. Live TV can be streamed through services such as Hulu or PlayStation Vue, which are available within the app.
Apple News+: Whilst Apple TV might be trying to break up the typical cable package model, Apple News is working to create the ultimate premium print content bundle, featuring over 300 magazine titles and news publications (such as the LA Times and Wall Street Journal). Like Spotify with audio content, Apple will give users access to premium publications for $9.99/month and revenue share based on content consumption. Apple also announced that user usage behavior will not leave the device or be sold to advertisers. The service is available to users today, with the latest OS update.
Apple Arcade: Currently, mobile gaming has hit an era of quick hit, free games pulling in users to generate in-game purchases. This model not only creates frustrating user experiences but has impacted premium gaming title development. Apple is looking to disrupt this with its Arcade subscription service. The new service (launching this Fall/Autumn) will allow users to access 100+ premium games, with no hardcore violence or in-game purchasing, that can stream across all Apple devices and Apple TV.
Apple Card: One of the more interesting announcements this week was focused on Apple’s mission to disrupt the credit card market. Through Apple Pay, Apple will be launching its own digital and physical credit card, Apple Card (coming this Summer). Apple announced the card will feature no fees and will move away from the typical monthly payment schedule. The card will also give cash back of 2% for all purchases via Apple Pay and 3% for Apple product purchases.
Apple has put its stake in the ground in the content space. Time will tell if the investments made will translate into hit shows that consumers will pay for. In the meantime, in a world where consumers worry about fake news, spam content and privacy concerns, Apple has used its platform to create a safe place for its users to have premium experiences with video, editorial and even banking – continuing its efforts to be seen as secure and conscious of consumer’s growing privacy concerns. Consumers can choose if they want Google’s open/ad supported platform or Apple’s closed/paywall focused system (if they can afford it). Brands targeting affluent consumers will need to play within that content space if they want to connect with those that pay to get ad free experiences.