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Apple Tiptoes Into Producing Original Video but Plans to Pick Up Pace | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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“Apple Music will have video and other things that I can’t talk about,” said Jimmy Iovine, who heads the $10-a-month service. “We’re going to be aggressive about it.” Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

DANA POINT, Calif. — Watch out, Netflix. Apple, the richest company in technology, is finally moving into original video content.

Apple said Monday night that it would introduce its first two television-style video series on Apple Music, its subscription music-streaming service, in the spring.

Other original videos, including scripted dramas, are planned over the next year as Apple tries to build Apple Music into a cultural platform, said Jimmy Iovine, who heads the $10-a-month service.

“There are a bunch of projects. We’re in it. This is what Apple Music is going to be,” Mr. Iovine said in an interview Monday night. “Apple Music will have video and other things that I can’t talk about. We’re going to be aggressive about it.”

Apple is still primarily a smartphone company. And despite sitting on $246 billion in cash and marketable securities, it insists it has no short-term plans to directly challenge streaming-video giants like Netflix and Amazon, which are increasingly commissioning high-quality original shows to attract and retain subscribers.

“We’re not out to buy a bunch of shows,” Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for software and services, said during an onstage interview at the Code Media technology conference Monday night.

But Apple does intend to use original video to help distinguish Apple Music, which began in June 2015 and has attracted more than 20 million subscribers, from competitors like Spotify. “We’re trying to do things that are unique and cultural,” Mr. Cue said.

Much like MTV did in its heyday, that means going beyond music.

Apple aired a trailer for the first show, “Carpool Karaoke,” at the Grammy Awards on Sunday. The series, a spinoff of James Corden’s running sketch on “The Late Late Show,” will be available to Apple Music subscribers in April.

The second program, “Planet of the Apps,” is a reality TV series about iPhone app developers competing to build the next great app. In the show, developers will make 60-second pitches, receive mentoring from the musician Will.i.am, the actors Jessica Alba or Gwyneth Paltrow, or the social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk to develop their ideas, and then try to persuade a venture capital fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners, to invest in them. The winners will get prime billing in Apple’s App Store.

“What does it take to be an app developer? Who are they?” Mr. Cue said, showing a trailer of the show with Ben Silverman, the veteran TV producer who brought the project to Apple. “Customers are going to love it.”

Mr. Iovine said that Apple Music was also working on other video projects that are “so opposite” to the first two.

“We’re doing dramas,” he said. “They just take much longer.”

Also under consideration, he said, is a way for musicians to interact with their audiences. “We’re still experimenting,” he said.

Mr. Iovine was a successful record producer before joining Apple in 2014 when he and the musician Dr. Dre sold the headphone-maker Beats Electronics to Apple for $3 billion. At Beats, Mr. Iovine said, “I didn’t see a stand-alone model that was going to work.”

Apple, by contrast, had vast resources to invest in building a music service.

Discussing Apple’s broader video ambitions, Mr. Cue said that the company was currently focused on two problems: how to make it easier to discover already-available content, and how to make it easier for video creators to innovate.

He dismissed suggestions, however, that Apple wanted to compete with cable and satellite companies by bundling a group of video channels and selling subscriptions to its users.

“We are happy doing the things we are doing today,” he said. “Where it goes, we don’t know.”

(The New York Times)