Apple streaming? The announcements expected at Apple’s special event | Science & Tech News

Apple is expected to make a grand product announcement at its special event later – and it may be the culmination of years of rumoured deals with Hollywood stars.

It follows a week of product news from the company, including new AirPods, a new iMac and a new iPad – begging the question: what will be the focus of the main event?

:: What’s expected?

Well, across the globe, sales of devices are slowing – especially the upmarket expensive devices which Apple is famous for.

For the iPhone maker, which has spent the last year neck-and-neck with Amazon and Microsoft as the most valuable business in the world, this has meant a significant slip in revenues.

Both of those rivals generate substantial revenues from something which Apple doesn’t: Services. This seems to be set to change. According to reports, Apple has invested roughly $2bn in the Apple streaming service it’s expected to unveil.

:: What would Apple’s streaming service be like?

At the moment, Apple’s TV app aggregates videos from a range of different video services, including Netflix and iPlayer. But ultimately, the TV app is just an intermediary that sends users away to the real service provider’s app when the users want to actually stream the video.

The current Apple TV app on iPhone and iPad
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The current Apple TV app on iPhone and iPad

This could be set to a change with a completely integrated Apple video streaming service. Crucially, the company isn’t expected to directly try to rival Netflix or Hulu. Instead, analysts expect Apple’s service to offer subscribers access to those platforms, as well as original Apple shows, by streaming through its own app.

The original shows will be a sweetener (albeit an expensive one for Apple to produce) to a subscription service users will access via the TV app on iPhones, rather than having multiple other apps and subscriptions.

Attendees gather for a product launch event at Apple's Steve Jobs Theater on September 12, 2018, in Cupertino, California. - New iPhones set to be unveiled Wednesday offer Apple a chance for fresh momentum in a sputtering smartphone market as the California tech giant moves into new products and services to diversify.Apple was expected to introduce three new iPhone models at its media event at its Cupertino campus, notably seeking to strengthen its position in the premium smartphone market a yea
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The special event will be held at Apple’s Steve Jobs Theatre

:: Will it be iPhone only?

The lack of an app on non-Apple devices, including Android phones and Windows computers, could limit Apple’s financial gains from the move.

A picture taken on February 8, 2019 in Paris shows a smartphone and its earphones as an audio podcast is being played. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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iTunes was limited to Apple devices at first

The company faced a similar issue when it launched iTunes, and quickly realised it had to open the platform out to rivals’ operating systems.

If the company doesn’t open up the service away from iPhones and iPads, the whole project could be little more than an added sell for its core products.

Considering the shrinking market for those products, and the company’s investment in original programming, that would be a significant bet from the company.

Some reports suggest there will be up to 25 original series in the new service, and that the company has invested around $2bn in producing these shows.

Apple has signed up a number of stars for original programming
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Apple has signed up a number of stars for original programming

:: What kind of shows does Apple have in mind?

Apple is believed to have signed up Oprah Winfrey to contribute to its original shows, alongside a number of other Hollywood stars.

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston are reportedly to star in a comedy about morning television, although reported creative differences among staff have apparently made production difficult.

Apple is also rumoured to be rebooting Steven Spielberg’s fantasy and sci-fi series from the 1980s, Amazing Stories, which features independent self-contained episodes similar to a family friendly-style Black Mirror.

Trailers for these shows will undoubtedly form a core part of the launch event.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 07: Carpool Karaoke Series Executive Producer James Corden speaks at Apple Music Launch Party Carpool Karaoke: The Series with James Corden on August 7, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Apple)
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Apple previously produced two series of Carpool Karaoke

:: Has Apple made original shows before?

Yes – but they haven’t all gone down well with critics.

A reality television show called Planet of the Apps – in which app developers offered “elevator pitches” for their apps to celebrities in actual lifts – cancelled after a single season.

More recently, the company developed a whole series based on the Carpool Karaoke segment of The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Although the series won an Emmy award for outstanding short form variety series last year, the general response towards celebrities talking to celebrities-style shows has been fairly muted.

Apple News service may be updated too
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Apple News service may be updated too

:: What about the news service?

The company already operates Apple News, an app which aggregates and syndicates news stories from media organisations, including stories from Sky News.

A subscription news service is among those suggested to be in the pipeline, in which users would pay Apple to access stories via the app from pay-walled sites.

But there have been reports that some media organisations who already run their own subscription services have decided not to join the programme – put down to the 50% cut Apple is apparently requesting.

The firm insists the news app gives media outlets exposure to a bigger audience – but according to reports, The New York Times and The Washington Post are among those to have declined to be involved.

The size of the cut is probably a significant indicator of the iPhone maker’s business model when it comes to online services.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SOREN BILLING: This photo illustration shows a woman as she uses the iPhone application of Swedish music streaming service Spotify on March 7, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. Sweden is at the forefront of a global recovery in music sales driven by streaming music services such as Spotify. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
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Spotify accused Apple of ‘unfair’ business practices

Recently, it fought with Spotify over alleged anti-competitive practices.

Spotify’s chief executive accused the company of taking an “unfair” 30% cut when users purchased an upgrade on Spotify’s plan through the App Store.

:: Why is Apple doing all of this?

Product news has dominated the week leading up to Monday’s event, which is significant. The company has made a deliberate decision make sure the media’s attention is on its new TV service.

Sales of devices are slowing, and its most recent financial report confirmed a 5% drop in overall revenues. Sales of its flagship product, the iPhone, were 15% lower. Meanwhile, companies including Netflix and Disney are seeing continued growth in the video streaming market.

Amid the scandal over Apple slowing down old phones and an offer to replace batteries freely, the American company sold 10 million fewer phones in 2018 than in 2017.

Gartner’s senior research director Anshul Gupta told Sky News at the time that incremental technological changes meant that Apple’s premium market offering wasn’t bringing out the new buyers.

Its options are simple: Charge even more for each smartphone, or make those smartphones generate more money. Unique Apple-only services are one way to do that.

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