Reuters/Stephen Lam
iPhones not included.
IT'S SHOW TIME

What to expect at Apple’s March event

By Ashley Rodriguez

iPhones, iMacs, and other hardware are likely to take a backseat to news and entertainment at Apple’s first big product event of 2019.

The tech giant has been inking deals with publishers like the Wall Street Journal (paywall) for a news subscription service, and signing A-list talent like Oprah Winfrey to produce programming for an upcoming video platform, which may also carry movies and TV shows from media companies like HBO. Apple is expected to offer a first glimpse of both platforms during its next event on Monday (March 25), at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California.

As iPhone sales soften, Apple has quietly amassed an enormous services business from sales of apps, movies, games, music, AppleCare, iCloud subscriptions, and Apple Pay fees. Services generated nearly $40 billion for the company over the past four quarters, as Quartz previously reported. The upcoming news and video services could further buoy the services business, which is already the size of a Fortune 100 company on its own.

Here’s a brief run-down of what Apple might announce on Monday, based on recent reports and analysis of its services:

News

Apple is trying to change the way people pay for news. The tech company’s upcoming paid subscription service for news is likely to take center stage at the event on Monday, BuzzFeed first reported. Apple will reportedly introduce (paywall) a new paid tier of the Apple News app, at around $10 per month, which will feature content from hundreds of magazines and publishers such as the Wall Street Journal. The publication is expected be at the event for the announcement.

It’s unclear how robust the platform will be at launch, as prominent publishers like the New York Times and Washington Post are reportedly sitting out of the service (paywall), due to terms that ask for as much as half of subscription revenues and full access to publishers’ content.

Video

Monday’s event is expected to be a star-studded affair, with Hollywood talent like Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and director JJ Abrams in attendance as Apple introduces its new video service, Bloomberg reported. The tech company has been talking for nearly two years about a video platform that would feature high-end original programming, including projects from Winfrey, a limited-series from Abrams, a show starring Aniston and Witherspoon, and movies from indie darling A24, the studio behind the Oscar-winning film Moonlight. Apple is reported to have more than two dozen projects in development for the video service, which will likely be free and integrated into the existing TV app on Apple devices.

While Apple’s slate of originals may steal the show, the platform will likely have more content from other media companies like HBO, Showtime, and Starz at launch. Apple already sells subscriptions to those services, and directs people to their content from within the TV app, but it usually sends users to the individual apps to access the programming. The new platform aims to bring more of those movies and TV shows into the TV app to make it a true video hub, and give Apple a cut of the revenue when people use it to subscribe to those external services.

Don’t expect Apple’s new service to be a destination for all streaming video right away. Some of the major platforms, like Netflix and Hulu, reportedly won’t be included because they want to keep control of the user experience and data.

Apple Pay

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon is reportedly attending the event, which suggests the co-branded credit card the two companies are working on could be unveiled. It’s another way the device-maker is expanding its services. Apple is expected to include an update to the Wallet app in its next software update that will pave the way for this.

Hardware?

Apple released a slew of updated hardware this week, including new AirPods, iPads, and iMacs ahead of Monday’s event, which suggests that hardware will take a backseat to services, if any hardware is introduced at all.

How to watch

If you plan to follow along, you can find all the details on how to livestream the event here.