Apple is reportedly planning to launch a video service in over 100 countries. According to one report, Apple will launch its new service in the United States in the first half of 2019 and will then roll it out globally to around 100 countries.
The latest report originated on The Information web site, which referred vaguely to three people familiar with the plans. The report was curiously consistent with a previous report from CNBC, also referring to people familiar with the matter. That echoed a report from Bloomberg in May.
Original programmes will reportedly be available to owners of Apple devices and users will also be able to sign up for television subscriptions for other companies, in a similar model to Amazon Channels, or other platforms like Roku.
It is not clear whether the service will be limited to owners of Apple devices. It seems likely that it will be part of the recently revamped TV application.
Apple has reportedly set aside a billion dollars for programme production and acquisitions in 2018, with similar sums in subsequent years, with an emphasis on family entertainment. It is relatively little compared to the investments being made by Netflix and Amazon, spending around $8 billion and $4 billion respectively.
The Apple strategy may be partly dependent upon persuading other subscription services to participate on its platform. That could include companies like Disney, which is planning to launch its own service in 2019.
In April Amazon reported that it had over 100 million prime subscribers. Netflix has 130 million paid subscribers worldwide.
Netflix and Amazon video services are available in around 200 countries worldwide.
Apple had an active installed base of 1.3 billion devices at the start of 2018. That includes iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch models.
Apple sold over 200 million iPhones in 2017. Apple had a 15% share of smartphone shipments in 2017, behind Samsung with 21%.
Apple TV, launched in 2007 and iterated over four generations, has been less of an obvious success. In March 2015, Apple reported that it had sold a total of 25 million Apple TV units to that point.
Despite years of trying to reinvent television, Apple has yet to demonstrate that it has “cracked it”, as the late Steve Jobs imagined to his biographer Walter Isaacson.
His successor, Tim Cook, has talked about pulling the cord to see where it leads but so far Apple TV has continued to be something of a hobby.
Apple has been proposing the product as an alternative to other operator set-top boxes, with Canal+ offering the 4K variant as an option to its customers.
Offering a video proposition to owners of Apple products could add value to its ecosystem and provide a market entry strategy, but will the company content itself with being left to its own devices?