If today was designed to be Apple’s crack at publicly rebranding itself as a services company, the result was decidedly uneven. The two less-heralded rollouts, Apple’s new credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs and its subscription games service, looked promising. But the presentation of its two most-publicized releases—a subscription news app called Apple News+ and a revamped TV app with original content—left key questions unresolved.
Apple News +, an upgrade from the popular native news app, will offer full access to 300 glossy magazines as well as content from two newspapers, the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal, for $9.99 a month. Two other prominent national papers, the Washington Post and New York Times, were pointedly not involved. Given the miserable economics for any publication participating in this service, it’s pretty clear which parties were desperate to take Apple’s money (magazines) and which felt like they were able to hold out and not cannibalize their existing subscription business (daily newspapers).
The TV announcement was heavy on stars but short on actual news. As expected, it will let people sign up for outside apps like HBO Now and Showtime, and even integrate regular cable channels into the Apple video app. It showed one clip montage from upcoming original shows. But Apple gave no details about pricing for any part of the video app. The overall impression is that the service is unfinished.