Apple's long-gestating plan to launch a Netflix-style video streaming service is finally beginning to take shape. Last week, we reported that the service was tipped to launch sometime next year with free access to iOS owners.
It has now been revealed that the platform won't actually be offered outside of the Apple product ecosystem. At all. (Welp, we suppose that's one way to boost Apple TV sales.)
According to three separate sources who spoke to The Information, Apple is planning to launch an as-yet unnamed streaming service globally in 2019. The US will receive access in the first half of next year with other markets quick to follow. In all, more than 100 countries are tipped to receive the service by the end of 2019, including Australia.
If the report can be believed, Apple’s original programming will be provided free to Apple device owners. For those willing to pay a fee, third-party subscription services will also be offered through the app. This means you won't have to swap between different apps to access the shows exclusive to each service - instead, everything will be available via a single interface.
As mentioned in our previous report, Apple has already sunk over a billion dollars into original content creation, with an emphasis on family-friendly and light 'PG-13' fare. (Deals have reportedly been signed with Oprah Winfrey and Sesame Workshop, giving you an idea of the kind of wholesome programming on the agenda.)
Apple's walled garden strikes again?
The Information's inside sources claim that the service will be restricted to users of Apple devices which would presumably include iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and possibly macOS. There are apparently no plans to provide an Android or OS-agnostic version for non-Apple customers.
At first glance, this decision seems like madness - how can Apple hope to compete with Netflix when it's restricting access to a tiny fraction of hardware? Android smartphones have a global market share of around 85 per cent, for example. When it comes to Google-powered smart TVs versus Apple TV, the disparity is even higher.
However, it actually makes a lot of sense when you stop to think about it. By making the service exclusive to iOS, Apple will be adding a unique selling point that Android products lack. It will also be bolstering the long-term loyalty of existing customers who will be stoked with the free content (assuming it doesn't suck.)
More to the point, Apple knows it has little hope of dethroning Netflix which has 130 million subscribers. Why fight an uphill battle you can't possibly win? Playing the exclusivity card is a much smarter play. Once the service establishes itself with a few hit shows, it may begin to appear on other distribution platforms.
In the meantime, if you want to watch Apple shows you will need to buy an Apple device. We predict Apple TV sales will explode in mid 2019. Either that, or online piracy is about to make a comeback.
There has long been rumour of Apple starting its own video subscription service to challenge Netflix. Until recently, it had been lumped in the same speculative basket as Apple HDTVs and Apple self-driving cars.
Now, a report from CNBC has cast a spotlight on the rollout plan - which will apparently include HBO content and free original programming beamed directly to iOS devices.