Sure, Apple's about services now. But everything works best on Apple's smartphone.
Apple just can't shake that iPhone addiction.
At a flashy event on Monday, the company time and time again stressed how great its services will work on its mobile devices. For its premium Apple News Plus subscription package, magazines have been designed to take advantage of the iPhone or iPad, adding animated covers and automatically downloading content for convenience. "I can read full magazine issues no matter where or when, right from my phone," said Wyatt Mitchell, Apple's director of design for applications, during Monday's event.
The Apple Arcade game subscription service will give Apple device users unlimited access to more than 100 new and exclusive games. "You won't find these games on any other mobile platform or any other subscription service," said Ann Thai, a senior product manager for the App Store.
And Apple's new no-fee credit card, Apple Card, requires an iPhone to work. "It can do all sorts of things no other credit card can do," said Jennifer Bailey, head of Apple Pay. "For starters, you don't have to wait days to get your card. Just sign up on your iPhone."
The company's revamped TV app will be on Macs, iPads and, of course, iPhones. The app brings together various streaming services -- except, notably, Netflix -- in one place and serves up recommendations for what you should watch next. "Everything you saw is amazing on iPhone," said Peter Stern, Apple vice president of services. The TV app even will come to smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio and streaming video boxes from Roku and Amazon. "Now that you've seen the new Apple TV app, you're going to want it on all of your screens," Stern added.
Apple didn't specify where its biggest news of the day, its TV Plus streaming video service, will be available when it goes live, but it's likely to be found in the same places as the TV app, a feature of iOS, MacOS and smart TVs. Even Oprah made an appearance to promote why she's working with Apple on Apple TV Plus. Hint: It has a lot to do with the iPhone. "A billion devices, y'all!" Oprah told the crowd.
Overall, Monday's event was big on hype and short on details. Aside from Apple News Plus, nothing announced could be accessed right away. Apple touted partner after partner for its gaming and TV services, but it didn't give many details about pricing or when we can subscribe to them. One thing, however, was supremely clear: Despite Apple's declarations that it wants to become a services powerhouse, at heart it's still "the iPhone company."
About two-thirds of the company's revenue comes from its smartphone, an influx of money that helped it become the first trillion-dollar US company. That reliance has become a problem because people have upgraded their devices less often. Apple's no longer valued at over a trillion dollars, and earlier this year, it reported a rare miss in quarterly sales because of weaker iPhone demand.
Apple has an opportunity with its new services to woo people who just like to watch TV, read the news or play games on their mobile devices. People who own iPhones, iPads and Macs already buy into Apple's message. It's everyone else, those Android and Windows device owners, who Apple could target as an opportunity for real expansion.
For now, though, those people are out of luck. On Monday, Apple didn't say a word about any of its services coming to Android or Windows devices. It didn't even say if its TV content could be accessed through a desktop web browser. And an Apple spokesperson said the company didn't have more information to share beyond what it said on stage Monday.
"People are used to watching content on any device they have at the time, and it's not always on Apple devices," Technalysis Research analyst Bob O'Donnell said. "Apple can't make services truly successful if it's only on its own devices."
There are signs Apple may not be a completely walled garden for long. The company has long created a version of its iTunes service that works on Windows computers. That proved to be a smart move from the start, with downloads jumping when iTunes became available on Windows PCs in late 2003, about six months after the service launched on Macs.
Since then, however, Apple's services have primarily stayed inside the Apple ecosystem, aside from Apple Music. There's an Apple Music app for Android, which Apple first offered as a beta before rolling it out broadly. And in December, the company rolled out Apple Music for Amazon Echo speakers, allowing users to ask the Alexa voice assistant to play tracks from Apple's streaming service.
But Apple's Android app doesn't work as flawlessly as the iOS version, and new features often appear months or even years after they hit the iOS app.
In January at CES, Apple made yet another step into putting its services on rival devices by partnering with major TV makers. Samsung's smart TVs will offer support for iTunes movies and TV shows beginning this spring. Samsung TVs will also support AirPlay 2, Apple's upgraded Wi-Fi audio streaming technology, allowing customers to stream videos, music and other content directly to their TV from an Apple device.
While Samsung is the only TV maker to offer iTunes TV and videos on its sets, other companies -- LG, Vizio and Sony -- will let users stream content from their iPhones, iPads and Macs to their televisions.
At its event Monday, Apple went even further. Its redesigned TV app will land on Samsung smart TVs this spring, then move to LG, Sony and Vizio TVs. Roku and Amazon Fire TV streaming-video devices also will be supported.
But that's where its openness ends. At least in the beginning, none of the services appear to work with Android or Windows.
Closing itself off from Android and Windows devices shuts Apple off from a significant percentage of the phone, tablet and PC markets. About 85 percent of all smartphones run Android, according to IDC, and that's not changing for the foreseeable future. More than half of the world's tablets also use Android, according to Net Applications, and over 85 percent of all desktop and laptop computers in the world run Windows, the researcher said.
Apple likely will eventually make its services run on rival devices. If it's serious about becoming more than an iPhone maker, it has to.
But no matter how much it does in services, Apple's reliance on the iPhone isn't ending anytime soon.
"Video streaming is not going to save shares of [Apple] if the iPhone market declines," Chatham Road Partners analyst Colin Gillis noted. "Apple remains the iPhone company."
The story originally ran at 5 a.m. PT.