Editorial: Apple is playing the long game with Apple TV+ & Apple Arcade as it always does

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 26
The new Apple News+ service has landed for us all, but we've only had a sneak peek at Apple TV+, Apple TV Channels, and Apple Arcade. Apple's March 25 event came with almost no detail on what didn't launch immediately, but the company has proven that it can literally afford to keep us waiting like it has before, because it has a plan and the wherewithal to wait out the slings and arrows.




Apple's March 25 event was always going to be unusual as it was the first Spring extravaganza to not include any hardware at all. In the end, it was even more unusual because it barely contained anything.

Tim Cook belatedly called it a sneak peek at the forthcoming video streaming service but that is really all it was. Other than the Apple News+ launch, this became less what the company would usually call a keynote and much more what television networks call the upfronts.

Every year, the TV networks show advertisers what their Fall programs are going to be and they do so in a very similar fashion. Stars from in front of and behind the camera, although chiefly in front, come out to say how fantastic their show is and how wonderful it is to be on any given network.






But, in those upfronts, we get to hear more details about when the shows will air. Advertisers already know how the shows will be delivered over the air or cable, they need to know when. While a network may change things, you'll still often hear that such and such a show is going to air Tuesdays at 8pm.

Apple did none of that, and it doesn't have to. It's not had to for well over a decade. Back when it introduced the iTunes music store, maybe it had to tell record labels that it was only a little test that was exclusive to Mac users. Yet even then, it had an audience and it had a way to get music to them all.

By the time of Apple Music's launch in 2015, everything was different. Vastly more people had Apple devices and every record label knew it. Apple still had to make deals and it still had to workout how to sell us Apple Music subscriptions, but it was in control of what it did and when.

In contrast, the launch of the Apple Watch that same year was a little different. Apple didn't need record labels or studios, it had the product and it had an audience. Not to trivialize how hard is to sell to an audience, it's a lot easier when you have millions of them.

Then, too, once Apple Watch was launched, it was criticized and even mocked, but Apple just kept going and going. Now the Watch is undeniably the market leader, now Apple Music is undeniably successful too, and it all comes down to what Tim Cook has repeatedly said. Apple is in this for the long game -- and it has a roadmap that it is following, even if that path isn't clear on the outside.

Where Apple is now

Ultimately, any video streaming service needs content, a way to deliver that video, and an audience who'll watch. Much as we would have wanted to know more details and very specifically any detail at all about the pricing, Apple can afford to wait because it has these.

Few other companies can, because few others have already got enough of the pieces of the puzzle in place.

Right now, it looks as if Disney is the only other company that can tease us like this with a forthcoming streaming service and know that it will get attention. All Disney has said so far about what will be called Disney+ is that it is launching in late 2019 and will have a mix of original and new programs. That's two years since it was first announced.

It'll be interesting to see how much or how little detail Disney reveals at its closest equivalent to Apple's event. An investor presentation is expected April 11 and Disney has said it will say more at that event.

Disney offices
Disney offices


Disney hasn't said much about what will be on its service but it doesn't need to. We all know the Disney catalog and we all know it has Pixar, "Star Wars," the Marvel movies, the Muppets, and piles of other content it has both created itself, and purchased. As of this month, it also also has the 21st Century Fox library. So, it is well-stocked with material and it has a gigantic audience waiting for it.

In comparison, Apple has now shown its wares and discussed how it will deliver it to audiences. We'll be seeing an updated Apple TV app on iOS and on Apple TV itself in May, which is when we can expect Apple TV Channels to start. Then we'll get a rather Marzipan-looking Apple TV app for the Mac in the Fall -- just about when we can expect the new programs to start.

So that's the content even though it isn't nearly as deep as Disney, and it's the delivery mechanism, which is deeper. All Apple needs now is the audience, and with two billion devices in the field, that's a sizable crop, ripe for the picking.

Waiting game

Everyone is expecting Apple to come roaring out of the gate with a complete service and it is not doing that. Hopefully by May for iOS and the fall for the Mac, it will have a comprehensive offering that includes video, Apple Music and the Apple News+ service. Hopefully it will have worked out pricing to make us want to mix and match.

The odds are that it will at least have sorted out the pricing. The pricing will be more expensive than we want to pay, but not quite so expensive to stop us. It will be typical Apple pricing, in other words.

The combinations of different services might take longer. And while Apple talked exclusively about its original programming, we know it has been looking at acquiring existing shows. Until the Fall, we won't know just how comprehensive a video service we're going to get.

Yet if that's disappointing, compare it to Netflix or Amazon Prime.

When Netflix began streaming video, it had been a DVD rental firm and was dying. Initially it could only offer around 1,000 videos, a mixture of movies and TV, but it has expanded into the world's biggest streaming company. It is also extremely in debt because of how much it costs to produce original programmes.

Amazon Video began as Amazon Unbox in September 2007, just a week before Apple added downloadable movies to iTunes. Amazon Channels is a separate service that it didn't introduce until 2015.

And compare both of these to the pioneers of streaming video, CinemaNow and MovieLink. The former began back in 1999 and while you've never heard of it, it did survive until late 2017. MovieLink was backed in 2002 by the likes of Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros, but it closed down in 2008.

Apple needs other studios if it's to fill out its wares with existing programming but it's demonstrated that it does not need anyone's help in making new shows of its own.

The future

Before this event, Apple's streaming service was typically described as being Netflix-like but that's wrong. Apple Arcade is more like Netflix for gaming, then Apple TV+ is like Netflix for video.

Now that it's been officially unveiled, though, it's being described as Apple going after Amazon Prime Video's market.

Yet, that's solely down to how Amazon organizes its fairly small video library into channels. Netflix doesn't but now Apple does, so that's it, Apple is going after Amazon's audience.

It doesn't seem likely that Apple's got a dartboard somewhere with an Amazon logo on it. It doesn't seem that anyone's going to decide to drop Amazon and move to Apple. So long as Amazon's video service is welded to its Prime one, people are going to keep on using it.

At some point, perhaps there's an argument that Netflix users might reconsider whether that service is worth the fee if they tend to watch more on Apple TV+.






However, that's not going to happen if Apple has spent a billion dollars on programming and is waiting to see how it fares. It's just shown off its upfronts for this Fall but there's midseason, there's summer, there's next Fall.

Apple can't hang around, but it can make us wait and it can afford to have us do that. While Disney may reveal a better programming slate in April and it may price it more attractively than whatever Apple is planning, there's only one other thing that's going to happen between now and May or the Fall.

More people will have bought Apple devices.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 374member
    If the best you have is Oprah, no thanks.
    hmurchisonbloggerblogflyingdpCarnage
  • Reply 2 of 36
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,271member
    It doesn't quite work this way.    Even when Apple owns the content they're just one provider out of many.   Yeah they have deep pockets ..so what?   Netflix doesn't have retail stores or an OS to maintain.   

    I think the problem we're seeing is the large companies are encroaching into others territories even if it doesn't make sense because they think that will keep Wall Street at bay.  Every large company is telegraphing that they essentially don't have a solid clue on what the future holds.   They're pushing AI and AR like it's something consumers are going to open the wallets for.  

    Streaming media doesn't address issues.   It's a diversion and escapism.   The CEO of a company provides the grand vision and direction for the future and it's abundantly clear that Apple doesn't have the visionary they need at the helm. 

    Apple needs to start grooming a charismatic leader that can assume the reigns in a few years.  Someone younger that can connect with the younger generations and have new ideas and perspectives about the future of computing.  

    There is no long game or long tail here.  This is flailing in the wind. 
    designrflyingdpdavgregrogifan_new
  • Reply 3 of 36
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,101member
    Pretty much everything Apple announced yesterday was “me too”. And the only thing that seemed Apple like was the new credit card. Everything else was working backwards from the financials to a product. Everything else was we need to be able to charge customers a monthly fee which - will grow services revenue and offset declining hardware revenue - so come up with something. And from what I’m seeing in my twitter feed Apple News+ Is quite buggy right now. That along with most everything else announced not being available until the fall makes me wonder if this stuff was announced before it was ready. Hard to get excited for something you can’t get for at least 6 months and have no idea what it will cost.
    designrgatorguyflyingdpdavgregdasanman69
  • Reply 4 of 36
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 713editor
    You can't really compare Apple with what a competing service was like when it debuted - Apple isn't competing against Netflix's streaming of 2008, they're competing with Netflix of 2019.
    designrjbdragoncornchipbeowulfschmidtwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 36
    designrdesignr Posts: 505member
    Pretty much everything Apple announced yesterday was “me too”. And the only thing that seemed Apple like was the new credit card. Everything else was working backwards from the financials to a product.
    Agreed except I think the credit card was the most obvious thing they did that worked backwards from financials. I have no idea about exact numbers in the CC business, but I suspect Apple will easily add a few billion $ to the bottom line with that alone. The others seem like a more natural extension of what they're already doing and where they've been heading.

    That along with most everything else announced not being available until the fall makes me wonder if this stuff was announced before it was ready. Hard to get excited for something you can’t get for at least 6 months and have no idea what it will cost.
    I wondered the same thing. No doubt they've had a lot of these things in the works at least conceptually. But this was a "show everyone (stockholders) we're serious about services too" thing. Which is all well and fine except if that analysis is right it suggests a short-term knee-jerk reaction more than a long-term strategy. It might play out okay long-term, but I suspect this article might be giving too much credit too soon to Apple leadership.
    edited March 26 flyingdp
  • Reply 6 of 36
    NotsofastNotsofast Posts: 386member
    Most folks posting don't seem to understand how a multi-billion dollar company has to operate.  They keep looking for every Apple event to be some sort of announcement of a new Grand Unifying Theory of how Apple is pivoting to an entirely new paradigm; hence their continual disappointment that Apple didn't announce they were no longer making computers, but have switched to teleporting people to other planets.  It doesn't work that way, however.  Instead, Apple has to continue to spend billions on maintaining and improving existing systems, while they spend billions on R and D to slowly integrate new products and technology.  They aren't a start up folks.  

    The announcements weren't earth shaking, but are smart solid developments that will continue to improve the overall value of the Apple ecosystem while bringing in billions more in profits to fund Apple's enormous investments in R and D to develop projects like Titan, AR, etc. 
    StrangeDaysAppleZulucornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 36
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 591member
    Target market: 45+. The "long game" better not take too long....
    cornchip
  • Reply 8 of 36
    designrdesignr Posts: 505member
    sflagel said:
    Target market: 45+. The "long game" better not take too long....
    I'm over 45...but I LOLed at that one! You're just being honest. :smiley: 

    cornchipCarnage
  • Reply 9 of 36
    jumejume Posts: 194member
    Every keynote lately seems like Apple really doesn't know how to release a finished product anymore!

    Plus everything is USA only, and everyone else then jumps to something else until it becomes available in your country.
    edited March 26 flyingdp
  • Reply 10 of 36
    FolioFolio Posts: 567member
    Video growing at what 15-plus percent annually? Apple need not produce the next Game of Thrones to be a significant winner here. Like only a few others, they can play the long game. Oddly, they can also take more risks than Hollywood or startups. I hope they do. But yet to see it. My hope is they hit lots of singles, versus home runs. Their platform and patience and Siri allows pretty granular tastes for sub groups of their billion devices.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 11 of 36
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 591member
    designr said:
    sflagel said:
    Target market: 45+. The "long game" better not take too long....
    I'm over 45...but I LOLed at that one! You're just being honest. :smiley: 

    Aniston, Oprah, Carrell, Spielberg(!), Witherspoon. Seriously.... arguably, Apple always targeted the young middle agers, but please.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,974member

    Streaming media doesn't address issues.   It's a diversion and escapism.   The CEO of a company provides the grand vision and direction for the future and it's abundantly clear that Apple doesn't have the visionary they need at the helm. 

    Apple needs to start grooming a charismatic leader that can assume the reigns in a few years.  Someone younger that can connect with the younger generations and have new ideas and perspectives about the future of computing.  

    There is no long game or long tail here.  This is flailing in the wind. 
    Nuts. You’re under the misguided and uninformed opinion that most CEOs are charismatic founders and product visionaries. That simply isn’t true. Nor is it required. Jobs was unusual in this way, and left normal CEO responsibilities to people like....Cook. 

    Apple is the most financially healthy public corp in existence. They have phenomenal revenue and decades of savings in the bank. It simply doesn’t get any better. And yet there are still fools who claim they’re flailing and doomed. 

    Don’t quit your day job. I know it isn’t running a company. (Mine was, once, but I wasn’t very good at it either). 
    brucemc
  • Reply 13 of 36
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,974member
    Pretty much everything Apple announced yesterday was “me too”. And the only thing that seemed Apple like was the new credit card. Everything else was working backwards from the financials to a product. Everything else was we need to be able to charge customers a monthly fee which - will grow services revenue and offset declining hardware revenue - so come up with something. And from what I’m seeing in my twitter feed Apple News+ Is quite buggy right now. That along with most everything else announced not being available until the fall makes me wonder if this stuff was announced before it was ready. Hard to get excited for something you can’t get for at least 6 months and have no idea what it will cost.
    First you complain Apple makes too much of its insane revenue from selling hardware. Now you complain that Apple services mean monthly fees. So, so, absurd. Yes, services are fees. For a service. That’s what a service is. It’s not a new hardware invention. 

    Get real, people. 
    brucemc
  • Reply 14 of 36
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 479member
    Hopefully this long game is a lot shorter than the one they are playing with Siri, Apple maps and HomePod, iBook, MacPro etc. They seem like they just don’t know what they really want to be as a company. Will this add Netflix like numbers to the company or be the next ping?
    hmurchison
  • Reply 15 of 36
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,974member

    jume said:
    Every keynote lately seems like Apple really doesn't know how to release a finished product anymore!
    Delusional. Tomorrow I get my second-gen AirPods to pair with my Watch 4, iPhone X, iPad Pro, and MBP. “Gah Apple doesn’t release finished products anymore!!” 

    I wonder if some of you even read what your fingers type. 
    edited March 26 cornchip
  • Reply 16 of 36
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,974member
    bulk001 said:
    Hopefully this long game is a lot shorter than the one they are playing with Siri, Apple maps and HomePod, iBook, MacPro etc. They seem like they just don’t know what they really want to be as a company. Will this add Netflix like numbers to the company or be the next ping?
    Huh? HomePod is a new product and I liked it so much I bought two. Apple Maps is excellent, I haven’t used google maps in years. Years. 

    They know exactly what they are. They make record revenue and profit from hardware sales, and are now complimenting that with services revenue. You people act like if they don’t announce round trips to the moon it means they’ve failed. They haven’t. You just don’t understand business very well. Sorry. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 17 of 36
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 479member
    bulk001 said:
    Hopefully this long game is a lot shorter than the one they are playing with Siri, Apple maps and HomePod, iBook, MacPro etc. They seem like they just don’t know what they really want to be as a company. Will this add Netflix like numbers to the company or be the next ping?
    Huh? HomePod is a new product and I liked it so much I bought two. 
    So that is where that unexplained 50% bump in sales came from in HomePod sales! They are selling so well I see that they are offering steep discounts to keep them on the shelves. As for trips to the moon, it wouldn't surprise me if they try a "me to, me too, look at me" SpaceX style venture next, much like they did with the highly successful Project Titan that is really ramping up now (no doubt it too will be described as another long road effort ....) /s
  • Reply 18 of 36
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 497member
    Wait. What? Long game? You mean Apple doesn't build its strategies around quarterly earnings reports and internet peanut galleries? 
    cornchip
  • Reply 19 of 36
    About all you can deduce from this awkward preview is that it won’t simply be free with Apple hardware, which is news in itself. “+” means subscription.

    I tend to think what will make or break this is Disney+ — if tv+ integrates well with Disney+ then it makes a lot more sense. Obviously Apple couldn’t talk about Disney+ but it isn’t a leap to assume that Apple’s move into this space is predicated upon having Disney/Pixar as a friend if not direct partner.

    tv+ could be used as a carrot — for example, you get tv+ for free with a Disney+ subscription via Apple instead of some other source. Same for HBO, Showtime, CBS, ESPN+ (note the parallel with Disney+), and so on — tv+ comes with any of those subscriptions via Apple.

    Something like that?
    edited March 26
  • Reply 20 of 36
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 497member
    Pretty much everything Apple announced yesterday was “me too”. And the only thing that seemed Apple like was the new credit card. Everything else was working backwards from the financials to a product. Everything else was we need to be able to charge customers a monthly fee which - will grow services revenue and offset declining hardware revenue - so come up with something. And from what I’m seeing in my twitter feed Apple News+ Is quite buggy right now. That along with most everything else announced not being available until the fall makes me wonder if this stuff was announced before it was ready. Hard to get excited for something you can’t get for at least 6 months and have no idea what it will cost.
    It's as though people commenting here have never noticed how Apple operates. Literally less than two minutes into Tim Cook's remarks, he has it all laid out in three colorful spots on the big screen behind him: hardware, software, and services. He contextualized it and explained that this keynote would be all about services. Apple integrates each of these things with the others to work as a whole. It's in the very foundation of Apple's business model. They're not creating more services in order to offset declining revenue for hardware. They're creating more services to make the hardware and software more functional and useful to their customers. They're enhancing the Apple ecosystem, increasing the likelihood that iPhone sales will also drive decisions to buy ATVs, iPads, HomePods, Macs, AirPods, and Apple Watches. 

    I've typed this in another thread already today, but it was six months between Steve Jobs' miraculous dog-and-pony show to introduce the iPhone and when it was actually available for sale. That demonstration famously had to be done in a precise sequence because any other order would have resulted in a complete crash of the device, which was being shown way, way before it was even close to ready. Yet, somehow, everybody thinks the iPhone emerged in final form from Steve Jobs' belly button and a week later a half billion of the things had been sold. No, even the game changing iPhone was introduced in incomplete form and customers had to wait six months to get one, and it was only available through AT&T. Sales figures were microscopic compared to what they would become under Tim Cook. It had a low-res camera, no GPS, and didn't even include SMS or cut-and-paste.

    The iPhone was a "me too" dwarf in the Blackberry-dominated smartphone market, and was laughed at as a toy that lacked a physical keyboard. It was also a "me too" dwarf in the Palm Pilot-dominated touch screen PDA market, and was laughed at for lacking a stylus and handwriting recognition. Since it had no GPS, it wasn't even a "me too" dwarf yet in the Garmin-dominated mobile GPS market. (For that matter, after GPS was added in later models, they didn't yet anticipate the central role location services would play, so they farmed out maps to Google. Only later did they realize they were giving a nosy competitor the keys to their customers' data, and abruptly introduced Apple Maps to much, um, fanfare.)

    And yet every time Tim Cook delivers a keynote, everybody can't remember past a week ago, and criticizes Cook for doing the exact same things that Steve Jobs did to earn his Silicon Valley Sainthood. The iPhone, it turns out, was more than a me too mashup of currently available tech. Its success came precisely because it integrated all that other stuff in a new way, and after several years of long-game incrementalism, it emerged as a must-have device that nobody knew they needed. Will the things introduced yesterday play out the same way? Who knows, but Apple has a track record, and that track record shows that they do indeed play the long game, taking their time to develop things that people eventually seem to think were there all along.
    edited March 26 apricot88kruegdudemmatzmuthuk_vanalingambrucemc
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