It was truly showtime for Apple at their flagship event Show Time and if you were looking for any hardware announcements from this year, you will be disappointed. The year 2019 marked the iPhone maker’s pivot to more service-oriented announcements with Apple clearly taking on Netflix, with a much-talked-about TV-streaming platform, a new magazine-subscription service, and more. The event also had a bunch of Hollywood moments with A-listers taking centre-stage to trot out a bevy of new services.
At Show Time, Apple announced a paid magazine subscription platform and a Netflix-like streaming service. The Cupertino giant also announced an Xbox Game Pass-style subscription for games and its very own consumer credit card, called the Apple Card which also provides daily cashbacks.
This is not the first time Apple made a grab for its user’s wallet share and mindshare, but it was the first time when an Apple event didn’t make any new announcements related to its product or hardware portfolio including new iPhones, Apple Watch or even the rumoured AirPods. In fact, the latter was touted to be outfitted with a hands-free Siri support and a new H1 chip.
Apple expanding its leadership In consumer-facing services
As a brand known for shiny, cool gadgets, Apple made a strategic pivot to service-oriented offering to draw a new revenue stream from its expanding customer base. However, analysts disagree that the new service-oriented offerings may increase customer stickiness but will not impact bottom line revenue in a big way.
Close on the heels of the announcement about their streaming media service and a news subscription service, Apple stock went down about 0.8% before the event, signalling the market sentiment about its play in video and content arena.
In fact, a leading business channel dubbed the event as “pure advertisement than pivot”, with each of the services simply being an expensive version of existing offerings.
But that’s not at all, market watchers also indicated that the new service plans blended well with Apple’s long-term ambition of cornering a share of the lucrative video streaming market. In fact, the company has also entered into a multi-year partnership with Hollywood boldface Oprah Winfrey.
The only hardware announcement is the new Titanium credit card
The titanium card was the only hardware-related announcement coming from the event which is more than just a plastic card and features no card number, CVV, expiration date or signature. According to a company statement, the card, launched in collaboration with MasterCard and Goldman Sachs, is built into the Apple Wallet app, providing users a familiar experience with Apple Pay and the ability to manage their card right on iPhone. The card leverages machine learning and Apple Maps to label transactions with merchant names and locations. The Apple Card, however, will be made available in the US later in 2019. So, there are two versions of the card, firstly there is a physical card and the Apple Card will also work with the iPhone. The key defining feature will be the new level of security and privacy the credit card will offer.
Making a departure from hardware to a service-oriented stack
If there is one key takeaway from these announcements is Apple’s need to diversify its business and move away from the iPhone to build an ecosystem around it with a clutch of offerings. The company which has an ecosystem of 900 million unique users (NASDAQ report indicates) is only set to attract more users with its streaming and news subscription service. In addition to this, Apple seems to have learned lessons from Apple Music debacle and will make a play as a distributor rather than going head-to-head with the big players like Roku, Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu. As far as its hardware is concerned, Apple made a host of announcements about its hardware products through press releases and updates.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.