Excerpts from some of my favorites. Seen any I missed?
Jason Snell, Six Colors ($): Us as a Service. I’m sympathetic to Tim Cook’s suggestion that Apple is now about a synthesis of not just hardware and software, but services. The mere existence of the Internet as a connecting factor means that Apple hasn’t been able to just focus on hardware and software for years now. Apple’s first attempt at Internet services were almost laughable, but it keeps getting better. And the App Store and Apple Pay have been pretty successful. If Apple can find a way to bring its entire ecosystem—hardware, software, and services—together to create great experiences, people will happily pay for them. But I am a bit concerned about what the growth of services does to the wallets of the people who use Apple’s products. I can put this all in the context of Wall Street demanding growth, which is true, but another way to view it is that Apple isn’t satisfied with you paying it every few years for a new Mac and a new iPhone—it wants your money every single month. So, by the way, do streaming services and cable companies and wireless companies and pretty much everyone else.
M.G. Seigler, Medium: A Billion Pockets, Y’all. I believe I’ve seen every single Apple event over the past decade-plus. Yesterday’s was without question the weirdest I’ve ever seen. So weird that I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Twitter is helping me a bit, but jotting some notes down before I read others’ thoughts will help me more. Here goes. First and foremost, I think the entire event was arranged in the wrong order. While it was stacked to build up to the Apple TV+ unveil with all the celebrity fade-ins, this was by far the least interesting thing Apple unveiled. Sure, if the shows are good, that’s nice. But who does all this pomp and circumstance for a fall lineup? Well, beyond the folks that are trying to sell advertising against said lineup, which Apple is not… Look, whatever. It was mildly pathetic, but not quite as bad as the finger touch. I hope the content is good because I like good content. But revolutionary, this was not. This is Apple using the biggest wallet of all to access great talent. Period. That doesn’t mean it will work, but it’s the gameplan. And they do seem to have the right people to execute it. But enlisting Oprah to use the stage at the end to basically give a pitch to other talent to sign up with Apple was… weird. Really fucking weird.
John Gruber, Daring Fireball: Very Brief Thoughts and Observations on Today’s ‘Show Time’ Apple Event. APPLE CARD: Sounds good, but “low interest rate” is just words… APPLE NEWS PLUS: Are magazines still a thing?… APPLE ARCADE: This was the most cohesive announcement of the day… APPLE TV CHANNELS AND TV PLUS: This whole thing was… weird. I get what Channels is — the infamous “skinny bundle” that Eddy Cue has been trying to put together for years. Paying only for the channels you want is the right way to do this, but obviously a nightmare to negotiate with the actual networks and channels. It’s also coming to Roku and Amazon FireTV, which I understand but feels so strange.
Ben Thompson, Stratechery ($): Apple’s Services Event. [This is] the needle Apple appears to be trying to thread: the only way that Apple TV+ makes sense strategically is not as a new product with a new business model, but rather as another extension of Apple’s integration, i.e. a way to not simply sell new iPhones but also Apple’s TV app generally, including the commissions Apple will collect from Apple TV channels. In short, Apple may increasingly be a services company in terms of the recurring revenue it earns, but its strategy is still very much rooted in a product world where differentiation comes from vertical integration.
Ben Bajarin, Techpinions ($): Apple’s Hope to Build a Story Telling Platform. While Apple is embarking on its own journey of proprietary storytelling with AppleTV+, the broader perhaps more interesting theme is Apple trying to create a platform for storytelling. If you look at the focus of the games, they are bringing to Apple Arcade, and they are mostly indie game developers who create immersive and cinematic gameplay that also tell a story… Second, we have magazines. While I’m not a huge magazine fan, I do recognize they often tell stories in a much different way than news publications for example… Lastly, we have AppleTV+. This was perhaps the most obvious push toward stories of all the announcements. Mostly because many writers, producers, and actors/actresses, were there to promote the stories they wanted to tell. Apple happens to be the platform they choose, mostly because Apple gave them the most money, but I think part of Apple’s pitch was the overall engagement and type of customer that Apple acquires. While Apple can and will keep paying for this content, I do think part of them hopes that the impact or the results of these stories being told on Apple’s platform has great impact and perhaps brings more storytellers to their doorstep.
Neil Cybart, Seeking Alpha ($): The Apple Services Narrative. Apple’s services strategy continues to be misunderstood. While services are indeed very important for Apple, their value is not found with the reasons often cited in the press, such as to offset slowing revenue or profit from iPhone or to pivot Apple away from hardware. Both of those reasons are simply wrong, demonstrating a fundamental misunderstood of what is driving Apple management. In one of Apple’s initial slides, Tim Cook defined the word service as “the action of helping someone or doing work for someone.” The slide spoke volumes to me. Cook was clearly telling the world that Apple was not going to announce some kind of pivot on stage. Instead, Apple was going to unveil new ways of helping both customers and creators.
My take: Sometimes it’s easier to see the big picture when you’re not focused on next quarter’s results.