I have to say yesterday’s Apple event was something of a snoozefest for me.
Now, I fully acknowledge that this is partly down to my particular tastes. I’m not a TV guy, for starters: I haven’t owned a television in 20 years, and while I do have a Netflix account, it’s borderline whether or not I actually use it enough to justify even the small cost. So it didn’t really matter what Apple announced there; it wasn’t going to interest me.
Same thing with gaming. I have X-Plane on my iPad, and use that briefly a few times a week, and three or four other games I play maybe a few times a year. I basically don’t have the gaming gene.
But while I could say to Apple ‘It’s not you, it’s me,’ the truth is, it is partly Apple too …
Apple News+, for example. If Apple had pulled off the impossible, and given access to the top ten US newspapers for $10 a month, I’d have snapped it up. I get most of my actual news from the BBC News website, with a sprinkling of other sources to get different perspectives on major stories, but I do love newspapers for their op-eds and features. If Apple had given me access to the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune, for example, I’d have considered it a bargain.
But, as I predicted, that didn’t happen. The terms Apple was offering – keeping 50% for itself, and splitting the remaining 50% between all the other publications on a pro-rata basis – made zero sense for the big boys, who are perfectly able to sell individual subscriptions.
As for magazines – meh. I hardly ever read them these days, digitally or otherwise. That’s what websites are for.
As I say, I’m not a gamer. But even if you are, yesterday’s announcement is unlikely to have set your pulse racing. I mean, it may turn out to be great. The games could be fantastic, and a low monthly fee for access to more than 100 of them could be a bargain.
But we have no way to know. We don’t know which games will be offered. We don’t know what a subscription will cost. We don’t know when the service will be available. It’s pretty hard for anyone to get excited about what was pretty much just a concept.
Apple TV Channels and Apple TV+
It was a similar story with TV. Sure, being able to unbundle packages through Apple TV Channels, and subscribe to just the content you want, is nice. Doing it all through the TV app is neat. I don’t mean to dismiss either of those things – as with gaming, it could turn out to be a great deal.
But again, we don’t know. We don’t know individual channel pricing. We don’t know what deals will be offered if you want multiple channels. And we don’t know the exact release date.
Where Apple TV+ is concerned, that will depend how much you like the look of the shows from the teaser, or the appeal of the celebrities involved, but I haven’t seen much sign of anyone jumping up and down with excitement. And, yet again, we don’t know the price and we don’t know the release date.
I think Mark Gurman may have nailed the only potentially exciting thing about the whole TV thing:
We are getting another step closer to the end of iTunes: “the Apple TV app will become the new home to the hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows currently available for purchase or rent in the iTunes Store.”
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) March 26, 2019
So if TV content is removed from iTunes, I may finally get my wish and see it reinvented as a standalone music app.
Finally, there’s the Apple Card, a new credit card announced by the Cupertino company in partnership with Goldman Sachs.
I like the look of it. The color-coded spending analysis looks like a really handy feature. The friendly calculator to show interest payments will be handy for those who don’t pay off the full balance each month. The optional physical card is a work of art – and I’d probably buy one just because it’s beautiful.
Getting an instant alert for every transaction is reassuring, but that’s not unique to Apple – I get that with my Amex card, for example.
And while the cash-back deal is decent – 1% for physical card payments, 2% for Apple Pay and 3% for purchases from Apple – it’s not exceptional. Ted Rossman from CreditCards.com pointed to a couple of comparisons.
Citi Double Cash is a very simple, easy-to-use 2% cash back card. And that’s on everything (not just Apple Pay purchases). If you want to maximize Apple Pay, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card gives 3 points per dollar on mobile wallet spending (worth 3% cash back or 4.5% off travel). That’s really interesting: U.S. Bank offers better Apple Pay rewards than Apple.
The Citi card, like Apple’s one, has no annual fee. The US Bank one does – $400 a year – but offers a range of extras that see the average customer rack up awards worth $726 a year.
So, all-in-all, I didn’t find yesterday’s Apple event particularly thrilling. How about you? Please take our poll, and share your reactions in the comments.