Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook speaks during a company product launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park on March 25, 2019 in Cupertino, California.
Apple CEO Tim Cook began Monday’s highly anticipated event at the Steve Jobs Theater by defining the word “services.” The conceit was to lay out a new vision for how to think about Apple.
If Apple Version 1 was the Macintosh computer, and Apple Version 2 was mobile hardware from the iPod and iPhone through the Apple Watch, then Apple Version 3 would include a variety of subscription services with recurring revenue.
That’s the vision Cook has been selling to investors on earnings calls for two years now and became more urgent last quarter as iPhone sales slowed in China. Apple shares recovered from that news and are up about 20% for the year, but are still down more than 10% from the stock’s peak last August.
Monday’s event was supposed to be the big coming-out party for this services vision.
But if Apple v.3 is going to change the way investors value Apple, they’ll need more answers than Cook gave Monday. Apple was so sparse on key details around its video and news services that it felt like Apple had rushed the event, or was waiting on a critical deal that never came through.
Apple introduced Apple TV+, its subscription video service for original programs, and showcased a handful of series starring Jennifer Aniston, Kumail Nanjiani and Oprah Winfrey.
But it didn’t say how much Apple TV+ would cost. Apple had previously planned on giving away at least some of its original content for free, CNBC reported last year, so new pricing information was hotly anticipated.
In addition, even if the shows are fantastic, a consumer could watch them all in a month. It made no sense to announce a subscription video service with no library.
Apple also failed to discuss its future content spending plans. If Apple is going to charge a monthly fee for its original content, how much does it plan to spend on video? Is Apple considering challenging Netflix’s $10 billion per year? Again, nothing.