Apple's (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report first original series, Planet of the Apps, which will debut exclusively on its music subscription service sometime in the spring, was shown at length on Monday at ReCode's Code Media conference.
At first blush, the series doesn't look much different than popular unscripted reality shows such as ABC's Shark Tank or NBC's The Voice. But Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services, insisted that Planet will offer viewers interactivity features unique in television viewing.
The show will launch sometime in the spring on Apple Music, the subscription service that is locked in a bruising battle with privately-held Spotify. Planet of the Apps is being made by the Hollywood production studio Propagate Content, whose co-founder Ben Silverman appeared with Cue at the ReCode conference.
"We saw this an an opportunity to do some new and creative things that haven't been done before," said Cue, who has taken the all-purpose role of trouble shooter for CEO Tim Cook. "We think video can be a very important part of Apple Music."
Apple has mostly dabbled in video, creating a mini-film Please Forgive Me in the fall with the singer, Drake, though it did surprise industry observers last summer when it acquired the unscripted version of the CBS' television series Carpool Karaoke led by the host of CBS' (CBS) - Get CBS Corporation Class B ReportThe Late Late Show with James Cordon.
Carpool Karaoke will debut on Apple Music in April, Cue said.
Both shows are assumed to be Apple's initial steps into the cut-throat and ego-filled world of television production. For years, Apple has been rumored to be close to launching a television platform that might revolutionize the viewing experience in the same way that the iTunes store changed the music industry when it launched in 2003.
But the world's foremost maker of consumer computer products has largely taken baby steps into video, adding some new functions to its AppleTV box but nothing that has come close to breaking traditional model of viewing or distribution.
"We're not out trying to buy a bunch of shows," Cue said. "We're trying to do things that are creative, that we think can move culture and that we think Apple can add some value to it, and we'll see. I'm excited about these first two shows -- they wouldn't be the same if we weren't involved."
In Planet of the Apps, contestants pitch proposals to four judges, who include Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow, both entertainers who have also started their own companies, the tech investor Gary Vaynerchuk, and will.i.am, the musician who is also a co-producer of the show.
Using Apple's iTunes platform, subscribers to Apple Music will be able to stop a show and play related clips about particular contestants.
"Television has always been a one way thing," Cue said. "One of the really cool things about our platform is having that interactivity, doing other things with it and you're just beginning to see those types of things." As an example, Cue cited ESPN adding layers of data into video shown on its apps.
Asked whether Apple sees the acquisition of Carpool Karaoke and Planet as early steps in building a content company along the lines of Netflix (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. Report , Cue demurred. Rich Greenfield, the BTIG media analyst, point out that only four years ago, Netflix debuted its first original series, House of Cards. In 2017, it's estimated Netflix will spend more than $5 billion on original programming.
"Everybody wants me to come up here and say we're going to do the same thing that Netflix did, but four years from now I don't know where we'll be," Cue said." We're trying to do some different things. How fast it grows and where it grows to, remains to be seen."