Apple launch events at its Cupertino headquarters in California have acquired a mythic status. Whatever is announced from this stage tends to make headlines worldwide and is regarded as the next big thing in consumer technology. It was on this forum that the world had first seen the iPod and the iPhone, two game-changers in tech history, setting a high benchmark for the industry, and for Apple itself.
On 25 March, the Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino played host to another historic Apple event. The brand made four major announcements, marking its entry into new territories like news media, television, video games and, most unexpected of all, banking.
After the immense success of YouTube and the recent emergence of subscription-based video streaming services like Netflix, Apple too has ventured into this area. Apple TV+ is a new streaming platform on a model similar to that of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The brand’s main focus with this product would be on producing quality content. Many top names from Hollywood have already shown interest. The Cupertino event, for instance, was attended by such luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Aniston, who were even present on the stage.
After the recent launch of Google’s gaming platform Stadia, it is no surprise that Apple has also jumped into the fray with its own subscription-based gaming service, Apple Arcade. The platform will feature new and exclusive games, including releases from renowned creators. To ensure that subscribers get a smooth and superfast gaming experience, Apple has removed the encumbrances of adverts and additional purchases from its service. Arcade subscribers will be able to play games offline, as well as switch between Apple devices seamlessly. There is no subscription fee announced as of now. The service will be available in 150 countries, starting this May.
News+ is the first subscription-based new service by Apple which will bring more than 300 magazines, newspapers and digital publishers on a single platform. Subscribers will be able read multiple publications on this platform and new issues of publications will be automatically downloaded to their devices, provided they have added these publications to their subscription list. Renowned magazines such as Vogue, National Geographic, People, ELLE, and papers like The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times are among the titles offered on News+. It is currently available in US and Canada at a subscription fee of $9.99. “We’re committed to supporting quality journalism, and with Apple News+, we want to celebrate the great work being done by magazines and news outlets,” said Lauren Kern, editor-in-chief of Apple News. “We think the breadth and quality of publications within Apple News+ will encourage more people to discover stories and titles they may never have come across before.” As of now, there’s no confirmation if this service will be launched in India anytime soon.
This was the big surprise of the day. At the Cupertino event, the brand launched its own credit card, marking Apple’s entry into the world of finance. Apple Card will be available in all iPhones through the Apple Wallet app and the Apple Pay service. Conceptually there’s nothing new about Apple Card. It works on the principle of establishing a link between banking with smartphone technology. But in practice, this is a revolutionary step ahead, as it aims to replace all your credit cards with an iPhone. While Apple Card is a digital transaction service, it is also available in a more conventional avatar. Apple is also providing physical cards which are secure to use and have a prestige value attached to them. According to the official Apple website, “Customers will receive a percentage of every Apple Card purchase amount back as ‘Daily Cash’. Every time customers use Apple Card with Apple Pay, they will receive two percent Daily Cash. Customers will also get three percent Daily Cash on all purchases made directly with Apple, including at Apple Stores, on the App Store and for Apple services.” Apple Card will be available in the US this summer onwards. It is not yet clear if they will be launching this service in India, but other tech players established here are likely to follow suit.