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Apple unveils streaming service, credit card, news app and more

Apple unveils TV streaming platform
  • Apple on Monday unveiled a video-streaming platform, credit card and subscription news service.
  • The new TV app will host the tech giant's own video content and offer access to cable channels including HBO, Showtime and Starz.
  • One Apple-created series, called "The Morning Show," will star Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell.
  • Apple is teaming with Goldman Sachs on its new credit card, with perks including cash back on purchases.

In a sign of the times at Apple, CEO Tim Cook's most surprising reveal Monday wasn't a sleek gadget, but rather a titanium credit card. The unveiling at the technology giant's Cupertino, California, headquarters came as it offered a first look at a host of new products, including a video-streaming platform, subscription news tool, gaming service and even a virtual book club hosted by Oprah, aimed at offsetting slowing iPhone sales by diving further into services.

The most eagerly anticipated of the products is Apple TV Plus — a video streaming service which will place the company in direct competition with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and others in the burgeoning business of providing online TV and movie content. The launch comes as Apple seeks to shore up growth, with the company in January posting its first decline in revenue and profit for a holiday quarter in more than 10 years.

"We've also been creating a collection of world-class services, and that is what today is all about," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in his opening remarks. 

Apple is betting on services to pick up the slack — and for good reason: 3 in 4 Americans have at least one online subscription, and video streaming services are the most popular, according to a CompareCards report. 

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Entertainment industry talent gathers for a group photo at the Steve Jobs Theater, as Apple Unveils AppleTV+, a new home for the world's greatest storytellers. Art Streiber

In addition to introducing AppleChannels, which gives subscribers access to Starz, Showtime, HBO and other cable channels within the updated TV app, Apple announced collaborations with some of Hollywood's elite to produce its own content. Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Jason Momoa each spoke during the event to drum up excitement about their work with the tech giant.

Aniston announced her return to TV in a series with Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell called "The Morning Show" that will take an "honest look at the complex relationships between women and men in the workplace and engage in the conversation people are afraid to have unless they are behind closed doors," Aniston said.

Apple didn't disclose what it will charge, if anything, for the streaming service.

Teaming with Goldman Sachs

Apple also announced its own credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs that will be compatible with Apple Pay, its current app that enables users' iPhones to function like wallets.

Perks of signing up for an AppleCard include "Daily Cash" — real money that customers earn every time they use the credit card. Apple credit card holders earn two percent of the purchase amount when they use the apple card, and three percent when they make a purchase directly form Apple.

Yet while the payment card drew applause during Apple's presentation, some experts were underwhelmed.

"This card will get a lot of headlines, but its bark is greater than its bite. People will sign up for it, but that will be mostly because they love Apple, not because this card is better than anything that already exists," said CreditCards.com analyst Ted Rossman. 

Apple's cash back offer isn't unique either, he said.

"For example: Citi Double Cash is a very simple, easy-to-use 2 percent cash back card. And that's on everything (not just Apple Pay purchases)," he said.

Emphasis on privacy

Also announced at Monday's event: AppleArcade, a subscription video-game service, and Apple News Plus, which provides access to hundreds of magazines and news site subscriptions. The news service will cost $9.99 per month and will offer access to The Wall Street Journal, LA Times and more than 300 magazine titles.

"There has literally never been an offer like this before," said Roger Rosner, Apple's vice president of applications.

He estimated that if a news junkie were to subscribe to each title individually, they would pay $8,000 a year.

Apple highlighted its privacy measures associated with the new offerings — an apparent jab at Facebook, according to one analyst.

"We believe importantly Apple tried to highlight this news service would have no 'tracking capability' of what consumers were reading, a clear shot across the bow at Zuckerberg and Facebook as Cupertino tries to further distance itself from social media stalwarts such as Facebook and Google," Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said in a note to clients.

Wall Street's reaction: Meh

Despite Apple's splashy launch, some Wall Street analysts questioned whether the company's deeper push into services can make up for slowing iPhone sales.

"While details of News+ pricing vary slightly from our initial assumptions -- and pricing for updated TV+ services was not provided -- we maintain our view that Apple suffers from the law of large numbers, with limited opportunities to offset the longer-term moderation/decline in iPhone sales," analysts with Raymond James said in a note.

Apple's stock price finished the trading day down 1.2% to about $188.75 a share.