Apple is planning to launch a subscription TV service, reports The Information, citing three people familiar with the company's plans.
U.S. customers can expect the service in the first half of 2019. Everyone else will receive it in the second half. It will, however, be available only to owners of Apple devices.
Apple will provide original programming for free to Apple device users, and will allow them to sign up for various TV network subscriptions, similar to Amazon Channels' model.
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The fact that the content is free for Apple-device owners may mean that the company sees more potential in its ability to attract live-TV streamers. That wouldn't be a surprise, since Netflix took years to gain dominance in that area, and Amazon Prime Video still lags behind it in popularity and library volume.
On the other hand, Apple has reportedly forked over $1 billion for creating and acquiring programming. The company has signed deals with Oprah Winfrey and Sesame Workshop. Those are big names, but whether they can compete with original content giants Netflix and Amazon Prime remains to be seen.
Apple's late start means it will be at a disadvantage. Amazon Prime Video is available in 200 countries currently, while Netflix is in 190. (Although some services, such as Sling and YouTube TV, aren't available outside the U.S.)
Apple's service will also be limited in that it's only for owners of Apple devices. The company has 15 percent of the global market smartphone market, according to IDC, and Apple TV has 28 percent of the streaming media player market in the U.S. We'll have to wait and see how Apple differentiates itself from its competitors in the streaming-service market.