‘It’s show time’: Apple drops huge hint
After months of speculation, Apple has announced what promises to be one of the tech giant's most interesting events in a very long time.
The company sent out invitations this morning for an event at its Californian headquarters on March 25 where Apple boss Tim Cook is expected to announce a long-awaited TV streaming service. Apple is also expected to reveal its plans to launch a magazine and news subscription service likened to a "Netflix for magazines".
It's almost a year to the day since Apple announced it had acquired Texture, a digital magazine service that lets users subscribe to more than 200 magazines for about $10 a month. And the iPhone maker has reportedly been working to get more publishers and news organisations to come on board. Apple's pitch to publishers (who have seen Google and Facebook swallow much of the online ad revenue) is that it can bring a large pool of new readers, and in return, Apple shares the revenue.
But the major focus of the event will likely be the launch of Apple's video streaming platform.
An invitation sent to journalists included a movie reel countdown video and the message "It's show time."
Apple has reportedly invested more than $1.3 billion into its video streaming launch, including a signed partnership with Oprah.
The company has already released two original video series on Apple Music, a reality competition Planet Of The Apps and a Carpool Karaoke spin-off, that would likely appear on the service. It has also been snapping up rights to exclusive content, including The Elephant Queen, a wildlife documentary from acclaimed filmmakers that debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year.
As Apple turns to Hollywood, earlier reports said actresses Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon and Star Wars director JJ Abrams would join Apple at the event.
During a recent earnings call, Mr Cook confirmed Apple planned to produce its own shows in a move that would see it go head-to-head with TV streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have invested heavily in original content.
"We will participate in the original content world," Mr Cook said.
AR HEADSET RUMOURED FOR 2020
The event later this month is part of Apple's broader push towards boosting the services part of its business to increase recurring revenue streams in the face of declining iPhone sales.
But the company's next big play in the hardware space is expected to be an augmented reality (AR) headset. Apple has poured plenty of money and focus into developing its AR chops for iPhone and iPad and encouraging developers to build new AR applications for its devices.
Mr Cook has made no secret of what he sees as the massive potential in AR. "In a few years, we are not going to be able to imagine our lives without AR. It's that profound a platform," he said in a recent TV interview.
So it's hardly a surprise that renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is reporting on rumours the company is aiming to have an AR headset ready for market in 2020.
According to Kuo, the company's AR glasses will be marketed as an iPhone accessory and primarily take a display role while wirelessly offloading computing, networking and positioning demands to the iPhone.
Such an approach would allow Apple to keep the glasses or headset relatively slim and lightweight, rather than trying to pack all the processing hardware into the wearable device.
A previous report by Bloomberg also predicted an Apple AR headset to ship by 2020.