Apple details new magazine, news app at services event

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Apple lifted the curtain on Monday on a television and movie streaming service that will allow users of its 1.4 billion gadgets worldwide to stream television shows and movies. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Apple lifted the curtain on Monday on a television and movie streaming service that will allow users of its 1.4 billion gadgets worldwide to stream television shows and movies. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Apple on Monday laid out the details of its news subscription service, Apple News Plus, at an event Monday. (Reuters)
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The company's new video service is expected to have original TV and movies that reportedly cost Apple more than $1 billion. (AP)
Updated 26 March 2019

Apple details new magazine, news app at services event

  • The new video service is expected to have original TV and movies
  • Apple is pushing digital subscriptions as it searches for new profit growth

CUPERTINO, California: Apple lifted the curtain on Monday on a television and movie streaming service that will allow users of its 1.4 billion gadgets worldwide to stream television shows and movies, both Apple originals and those from other creators, in a first step to challenge streaming video leaders Netflix and Amazon.

The launch was the centerpiece of an event at Apple's Cupertino, California, headquarters that focused on the technology company's services, not its hardware, as it deals with declining sales of its iPhone.

Apple also introduced updates to its payment system, launched a games arcade, and added magazines to its news app.

Hollywood celebrities trekked to Apple's home to help debut a revamped Apple TV digital storefront, called Apple TV+. Apple has commissioned programming from Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.

Apple's jump into original entertainment signals a fundamental shift in its business as sales of hardware money-makers drop off. Without another category-defining new gadget announced to the public, Apple is looking to rely more on selling subscriptions and services like video, music and hardware insurance.

Throughout their presentation, Apple executives stressed privacy protections for consumers as they shop and consume content across a range of Apple phones, iPads or other hardware. They also emphasized content that would appeal to young audiences, potentially setting the stage for a rivalry with Walt Disney.

The company led off the event with an announcement that its free news app will now come in a paid-subscription version, called Apple News+, which curates a range of news articles and will include 300 magazines including National Geographic, People, Popular Science, Billboard and the New Yorker. Apple said it would cost $9.99 a month.

Apple also introduced a titanium, laser-etched Apple Card backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Mastercard Inc that can track spending across devices and pay daily cash back on purchases.

Cook also said Apple Pay, its digital wallet, will soon be usable on public transit systems in Portland, Oregon, Chicago and New York City. Apple Pay will be available in more than 40 countries by the end of the year.

With its new media push, Apple joins a crowded field where rivals such as Amazon.com's Prime Video and Netflix Inc have spent heavily to capture viewer attention and dollars with award-winning series and films.

The big tech war for viewers ignited a consolidation wave among traditional media companies preparing to join the fray. Walt Disney Co, which bought 21st Century Fox, and AT&T Inc, which purchased Time Warner Inc, plan to launch or test new streaming video services this year.

Revenue from its "services" segment - which includes the App Store, iCloud and content businesses such as Apple Music - grew 24 percent to $37.1 billion in fiscal 2018. The segment accounted for only about 14 percent of Apple's overall $265.6 billion in revenue, but investors have pinned their hopes for growth on the segment.

The company also introduced Apple Arcade, a game subscription service that will work on phones, tablets and desktop computers and include games from a range of developers.

Apple shares were down about 1 percent after about an hour of presentations at the event, which was broadcast online.


US lawmakers urge Apple to restore HKMap app used in Hong Kong

This file photo taken on October 10, 2019 shows a smartphone displaying the "HKmap.live" app in Hong Kong. (AFP)
Updated 43 min 29 sec ago

US lawmakers urge Apple to restore HKMap app used in Hong Kong

  • The lawmakers said Apple has censored at least 2,200 apps in China, citing the nonprofit group GreatFire

WASHINGTON: A bipartisan group of seven US lawmakers including Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Friday urged Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook to restore the HKMap app used in Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, Apple removed the app that helped Hong Kong protesters track police movements, saying it was used to target officers.
Apple declined to comment.
The group separately wrote Activision Blizzard Inc’s chief executive Robert Kotick, calling on him to reverse the company’s decision to ban a player who voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Activision Blizzard did not immediately comment on Friday.
“You have said publicly that you want to work with China’s leaders to effect change rather than sit on the sidelines and yell at them. We, too, believe that diplomacy and trade can be democratizing forces. But when a repressive government refuses to evolve or, indeed, when it doubles down, cooperation can become complicity,” the members wrote to Cook.
Apple said on Oct. 9 that it had begun an immediate investigation after “many concerned customers in Hong Kong” contacted it about the app and the company found it had endangered law enforcement and residents.
It said the HKMap app “has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement.” Critics said Apple acted after pressure from Beijing in a commentary in the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper.
The lawmakers said Apple has censored at least 2,200 apps in China, citing the nonprofit group GreatFire.
Apple’s action came amid a furor surrounding the US National Basketball Association after a team official tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protests, which led Chinese sponsors and partners to cut ties with the NBA.
Last week, Blizzard reduced the punishment dealt out to Chung Ng Wai, a Hong Kong-based Hearthstone esports gamer, for his public support of pro-democracy protests after its decision sparked controversy among players and the public.
Blizzard Entertainment, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, said initially that it would suspend the player from competition for a year and strip him of prize money.