Tue, Mar 26, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Apple invites Hollywood to Silicon Valley in TV push


Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, on June 4 last year.

Photo: AP

Apple Inc led many to believe that it would finally lift the curtain yesterday on a secretive, years-long effort to build a television and movie offering designed to compete with big media companies and boost digital services revenue as iPhone sales taper.

“It’s show time” is how the iPhone maker billed the affair slated for the Steve Jobs Theater at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The event would be the technology company’s first splashy launch not to feature new gadgets or hardware.

Hollywood celebrities were invited to trek to Apple’s Cupertino home to greet the debut of a revamped Apple TV digital storefront.

Apple has commissioned programming from A-list names such as Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.

The Apple original shows are to be offered alongside the option to subscribe to content from Viacom Inc and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp’s Starz, among others, sources have said.

Apple would join a crowded field where rivals such as Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video and Netflix Inc have spent heavily to capture viewer attention and dollars with award-winning series and films.

The big tech war for viewers ignited a consolidation wave among traditional media companies preparing to join the fray. Walt Disney Co — which bought 21st Century Fox Inc — and AT&T Inc — which purchased Time Warner Inc — plan to launch or test new streaming video services this year.

Apple’s jump into original entertainment signals a fundamental shift in its business. Sales of hardware money-makers the iPhone, iPad and Mac were either stagnant or flat in its most recent fiscal year.

Revenue from its “services” segment — which includes the App Store, iCloud and content businesses such as Apple Music — grew 24 percent to US$37.1 billion in fiscal year 2018.

The services segment accounted for only about 14 percent of Apple’s overall US$265.6 billion in revenue, but investors have pinned their hopes for growth on the segment.

Apple’s TV push has been cloaked in mystery. Even producers of Apple’s shows are unsure about many of the details about when and how audiences would be able to see their work.

Yesterday, Apple was also to unveil an Apple News subscription option featuring content from major publishers and a new credit card with Goldman Sachs Group Inc to bolster Apple Pay.

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