Apple upended the tech world with its Mac computer. Its iTunes music software and iPod helped iPhone , offering a constant connection to the internet from our pockets.. Then the
But what comes next?
That's the perpetual question facing Apple, one of the most successful companies ever and one of the few to be valued. And though sales of its most popular device, the iPhone, still dwarf those of nearly every other competitor, .
That's part of why, this year, Applearound games, finance, news and video, each focused on convincing iPhone owners to shell out even more for new, magical experiences on their devices.
"It's unlike anything that's been done before," Apple's CEO Tim Cook said .
There's Apple Arcade, a $4.99 per month service promising access to a ranging from gory action fighting games to family-friendly puzzles. There's Apple News Plus, a , including Consumer Reports, Entertainment Weekly, Wired, Time and portions of The Wall Street Journal. And don't forget , backed by Goldman Sachs and powered by Apple's well-regarded software teams.
But Apple's most ambitious project announced this year was Apple TV Plus, a collection of created with stars like Jennifer Anniston, Steve Carell and talk show sensation Oprah. At $4.99 per month, it's cheaper than what we're being offered by rivals who have large back catalogs to entice viewers, such as with its Marvel, Star Wars and Disney animation at $6.99 a month, or Netflix with its hit original shows and movies at $9.99 per month.
Apple's been pushing hard, enticing new viewers to sign up when they launch its free Apple TV app on their iPhones or iPads, and it's offered a year of the service for free to anyone who . The hope is that the subscription dollars you pay for its entertainment will lock you more tightly into the Apple universe, while also giving the company a healthy new revenue stream to offset maturing iPhone sales.
With an ever growing list of competitors from Disney Plus toto and even CBS All Access from CNET parent ViacomCBS, Apple's looked to the likes of Oprah to help seal the deal with both viewers and creators.
After all, why choose Apple? "They're in billions of pockets y'all," Winfrey said in March.
In 2020, we'll learn whether Apple's legendary track record as a titan of industry can repeat itself.
A mixed start
Apple's success right now is in the eyes of the beholder. There are good reviews for Apple Arcade games like the dungeon crawler Bleak Sword, the artistic adventure and the exploration game Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, although the number of subscribers is a question.
On the negative end, there are rumors that Apple'sto Apple News Plus after its launch in March. Some analysts also noted that Apple giving away a free year of Apple TV Plus with each new iPhone, iPad and Mac might signal the company's worries about its potential for success.
Apple TV Plus has also gotten off to a critically auspicious start, with nominations in the Critics' Choice Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards for its dramedy . That's far fewer than the 61 nominations Netflix received, 33 for HBO or 14 for Amazon, but analysts say it's a sign of success nonetheless.
"From a content perspective, they make good choices," Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies, said of Apple.
She added that there seems to be a good mix of the types of shows on the service, despite rumors ofAquaman star Jason Momoa, is geared more toward adults. Meanwhile, Snoopy in Space is clearly aimed at the younger set.. Series like , a gritty post-apocalyptic show featuring and
But from a buzz and audience perspective, it's fallen short of its key new rival, Disney Plus, which boasts a viral sensation in The Mandalorian and . Data shows that The Mandalorian was more popular .
This next year will be pivotal as some shows launch their second season and potentially new ones premiere. But the free-year promotion will likely mask just how well or poorly Apple TV Plus is faring, and it may take a while before we learn if consumers are willing to actually pay for the service.
There's no question, however, that Apple made a big splash in 2019.
"Whether they can keep the momentum going is still a question," Milanesi said.
We'll be watching.