Apple media events are so hyped nowadays that it's hard to imagine feeling fully satisfied after one of them. The latest event, although unique in that it was focused on services rather than hardware, had its ups and downs as I explain below.
New Service: Apple News+
This is a premium version of Apple news that will include full digital access to over 300 magazines and various newspapers. The app will feature recommendations based on your interests. The service is available today for $10/month and the first month is free.
My take: Cheers on releasing the product today. For people who are news fanatics or are still reading a lot of magazines (not me since I claim magazines went out with powdered wigs), this may be a good offering.
App Update: Apple TV
The Apple TV app is getting an overhaul. There will be recommendations for what to watch as well as a new Channels feature that lets you add premium channels such as HBO and Showtime with a single click. There will also be a version of the app that works on devices other than Apple TV such as certain smart TV's, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku. The update is set to be released in May.
My take: This update is fine but doesn't really blow me away. I have an Apple TV, but I don't have a pressing need for all the new features. Also, this starts the long list of things announced but not ready for release. Boo.
New Service: Apple TV+
Apple TV+ is a new subscription service with original content exclusive to this service. Big celebrities showed up to promote this service including Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. Apple did not announce pricing or availability.
My take: This is Apple's answer to Netflix and Hulu. It's yet another service you have to pay for to get original content. I have been cutting down on my content consumption, so I'm not looking to add another service or more content. Also, without knowing when or how much, it's hard to get excited about it.
New Service: Apple Arcade
Apple Arcade is a new subscription service that focuses on premium games. Subscribers will have access to over 100 new games exclusive to the service. You can play games across all Apple devices and play offline. The service will be available in the fall and no pricing was announced.
My take: I like playing games, so of all the new services this one is the most intriguing to me. But again, no idea of pricing and the fall seems a long time to wait for me to get excited now.
Apple Credit Card
Apple is creating its own credit card backed by Goldman Sachs and MasterCard. There are no late fees, annual fees, or international fees. The card will exist virtually in the Apple Pay Wallet, and there will be a physical card made out of titanium. The rewards are 3% cash back on Apple purchases, 2% cash back on Apple Pay purchase, and 1% cash back using the physical card. The rewards appear daily and can be spent using Apple Pay or sent to people in iMessage. The card will be available in the summer.
My take: I like cool-looking things, and I have to admit the titanium card looks sweet and of course I'll get one. I like the 3% cash back on Apple products, but other than that I have better rewards on other cards. I suppose the 2% reward might be enough to get me to use Apple Pay more.
I do like Apple's continued emphasis on privacy and not letting the consumer be the product unlike Facebook and Google. In general, I am disappointed by announcements that are months away from launch. The exception to this is the original iPhone, which was announced in January of 2007 but was not released until June of 2007. That period of time was nothing but pure hype for the "Jesus phone." I don't think the strategy works with services, at least not with such non-specific information.