Apple rolls out the big stars as it launches new shows, products


Spielberg will direct a sci-fi show called Amazing Stories, inspired by stories his dad used to read as a kid.

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Momoa will star in a show called Sea taking place in a world devastated by a virus that wiped out most of the population, leaving survivors blind.

Big Bird of Sesame Street also showed up to promote a new show for preschoolers.

Highlighting entertainment and financial services that run on its 1.4 billion consumer devices, rather than the devices themselves, is a momentous strategy shift led by Cook, who succeeded the late Steve Jobs in 2011.

“It’s show time” is how Apple billed the launch, leading analysts to believe it will be its first splashy event not featuring new gadgets or hardware.

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 Plus, 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 $US9.99 ($14) a month.

Apple also introduced a titanium, laser-etched Apple Card backed by Goldman Sachs Group and Mastercard 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 four US cities: Portland, Oregon, Chicago and New York City.

Apple Pay will be available in more than 40 countries by the end of the year.

Hollywood celebrities trekked to Apple’s home to help debut a revamped Apple TV digital storefront.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, introduces the company’s new video and news subscription services.Credit:Bloomberg

Apple will join a crowded field where rivals such as Amazon.com’s Prime Video and Netflix 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. Disney, which bought 21st Century Fox, and AT&T, which purchased Time Warner, plan to launch or test new streaming video services this year.

Apple’s jump into original entertainment signals a fundamental shift in its business. Sales of hardware money-makers the iPhone, iPad and Mac were either stagnant or flat in its most recent fiscal year.

Without another category-defining new gadget announced to the public, Apple is expected to rely more on selling subscriptions and services like video, music and hardware insurance.

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Apple’s TV push has been cloaked in mystery. Even producers of Apple’s shows are unsure about many of the details about when and how audiences will be able to see their work.

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.

While Apple plans to spend $US2 billion on original shows this year and has hired Hollywood veterans to oversee them, it is unlikely to take on Netflix or Amazon.com directly by including libraries of older shows. Instead, its model is expected to more closely resemble the App Store, offering paid subscriptions to other media companies’ programming and keeping a cut of sales.

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