Apple (AAPL) - Get Report announced a slew of new services offerings on Monday, including Apple TV Plus featuring original content, a news subscription platform called Apple News Plus, an expanded Apple TV app, a subscription gaming service and a credit card tied in to Apple Pay and the Apple Wallet.
"Today's going to be a very different kind of event," CEO Tim Cook said at the outset. The launches are part of Apple's shift to focusing on services as iPhone sales slow. Apple shares at the outset of the event were down 0.7% but by the end had fallen 1.7% to $187.92, perhaps in response to last week's 2.7% rise in the stock on optimism about its announcements on Monday.
The tech giant spent the most time introducing Apple TV Plus, its new subscription service featuring original video content. Apple rolled out Hollywood A-listers such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrel, and J.J. Abrams to discuss their projects for Apple TV Plus.
Apple said the ad-free and downloadable service would be available in 100+ countries in the fall across all Apple devices and smart TVs, but significantly, declined to provide pricing.
"Not enough detail for me to say who wins and who loses," said Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities in an email. "Apple TV Plus is a threat to Netflix, but most likely, nobody quits Netflix to sign up for Apple."
The revamped Apple TV app will bring together various streaming video apps, including those from cable channels, in one place, with personalized recommendations given across all the content you've watched. It will also allow consumers to directly subscribe to HBO, Showtime, Starz and a host of other paid content providers.
Cook began the presentation by introducing Apple News Plus, which will host 300 magazines and papers featuring political, sports and lifestyle content, such as National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and the New Yorker, as well as newspapers such as the L.A. Times and the Wall Street Journal.
According to Apple, subscribing to the individual publications contained in News Plus would cost $8,000 a year. News Plus is available now in the App Store and the first month is free. It will also feature family sharing for no extra charge, and the service will be available in both the U.S. and Canada. Apple emphasized that News Plus doesn't allow advertisers to track users' broader web activity.
Meanwhile, the new Apple Card is tied to Apple Pay and will be backed by Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report and MasterCard (MA) - Get Report . One novel feature is called Daily Cash, in which rebates for purchases (3% for items purchased from Apple, 2% for items purchased using Apple Pay and 1% for every other purchase) are credited to users on a daily basis.
The physical card will be made of titanium and have the user's name laser-etched on it; it has no card number, CVV, expiration date or signature. There is no annual fee for the card, and Apple said that it would be available starting in the summer.
The company made a point of saying that the Apple Card also won't track what customers bought, where they bought it or how much they spent; instead, all that information will be stored locally and statements would provide more detailed merchant information than what's typically provided by credit cards. Goldman Sachs will also refrain from tracking the user.
Apple also introduced Apple Arcade, a subscription gaming service that will feature 100 new games exclusive to Apple with many heavily featuring augmented reality.
Apple Arcade will be available as its own app in the app store. The games can be played offline and across Apple devices, including the iPad and Apple TV. Currently, no advertisements or additional in-game purchases are part of the service. The service will be available in the fall of 2019, but no pricing was given.
"We believe Apple is trying to... flex their muscles with 1.4 billion active iOS devices," wrote Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter in an email. "Original content is one piece and it's all about the mouse trap for consumers Cook and Cupertino are trying to build. We believe the event lays out the vision and strategy; now it's about consumers signing up."
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