Oprah at Apple's Showtime event.
Oprah at Apple's Showtime event.

Apple is Ready to Take Over Your Life (And We're Cool with It)

By Adam Baidawi
25 March 2019
The company has announced a new streaming service, subscription gaming service and credit card

Apple has flexed its muscles in new ways today, with the monster announcements of a video streaming platform, a credit card, a subscription gaming service and subscription news and magazine service.

The Show Time event was something of a mic drop for the company – a wild new offering of ways to experience the Apple ecosystem. A lot of them were America-centric, but offered hints of what’s to come globally.

Apple’s long-rumoured video streaming experience was finally announced: Apple TV+. Featuring a batch of original content, the service has brought together creators including Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Sofia Coppola, M. Night Shyamalan, Octavia Spencer, Reese Witherspoon, JJ Abrams and Jennifer Aniston. Phew. Apple TV+ will arrive later this year as a subscription service. 

“Great stories can change the world. Great stories can move us and inspire us. They can surprise us and challenge our assumptions,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The staggering collection of creatives was a neat way for the company to make a little noise – Spielberg, Aniston, Witherspoon and Steve Carell were amongst a group that took to the stage at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California. 

Netflix, of course, turned “binge-watching” into a thing. It took a medium that few took seriously – digital-only content – and made it Emmy and Oscar-worthy. That company is closing-in on 150 million subscribers, globally.

But while Netflix and Amazon have dominated the space to date, Apple’s entry has been long-expected, and long-anticipated. The success of the service will, inevitably, come down to the strength of that original content and whether or not Apple can produce zeitgeist-affecting hits.

The Associated Press has reported that Apple may have spent up to $1 billion creating its own original content – a marker of both the strength of the company’s intent, and the competition of the space.

The Apple TV app will receive an update to better curate recommendations via advanced machine learning. That update will also include Apple TV Channels: allowing cable subscribers to have a single home for all of their subscriptions, and also to curate their own new packages. It's unclear whether that feature will make it way into international territories.

And yes, there were other announcements, too. Apple Pay is on track to pass 10 billion transactions this year, and expanding further around the world. Taking that to the next level is Apple Card, the company’s first-of-its-kind credit card. The Apple Card will include a suite of smart features, including spending tracking, and the eradication of convoluted credit card statements. Cook said that it would prove to be the biggest innovation in credit cards in 50 years.

Apple also announced a multiplatform subscription gaming service called Apple Arcade: an all-you-can-eat gaming experience, and one that can go from mobile to tablet to laptop to TV, seamlessly. It’ll be available later this year, and receive instant comparisons to Google’s recently-announced Stadia service.

Finally, Apple announced a revamp of its News app, including a premium service dubbed Apple News+: 300 magazines will be available on the service – including titles like GQ, Vogue, the New Yorker and Vanity Fair.

“Magazines are iconic, and a part of our culture. They follow and create the latest trends in fashion and style,” said Tim Cook. The service will cost $9.99 a month, but it doesn’t have an attached launch date for the Middle East.

It all adds up to Apple’s most comprehensive overhaul to its service offerings in a long, long time. The question that remains? Whether or not they can tie it all together.