Cook lauded Apple’s recently announced partnership with Oprah Winfrey. The two reached a multi-year deal to produce original programming in a move widely perceived as the tech company girding for battle with Netflix and Amazon in an increasingly crowded content field.
“We’re very excited to work with Oprah,” Cook said during Apple’s third-quarter earnings call. “Her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world — there’s no match. I think we can do great original content together.”
Cook, who’s the master of dangling tantalizing details of products yet to come, talked about the “two highly respected television executives” who joined the company last year — a reference to Sony Pictures Television presidents Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who were hired to oversee the worldwide video division.
“I couldn’t be more excited about what’s going on there,” Cook said. “We’ve got great talent in the area that we’ve sourced from different places and feel really good about what we will eventually offer.”
The company is working on a subscription service that would combine Apple’s original TV shows, its music service and magazine articles, The Information reported last month. The offering would be similar to Amazon’s Prime service — but distinctly different from other, entertainment-only offerings in the market.
Apple is expected to launch a digital news subscription service next year, which represents the first step of this broader offering, the publication reported.
Cook addressed none of that in his remarks.
The soft-spoken Apple CEO hinted broadly at a television offering, noting several “key catalysts” reshaping the entertainment industry. He said cord-cutting is accelerating “at a much faster rate than widely thought,” Apple’s own streaming device, the Apple TV, is selling at brisk double-digit growth, and third-party video subscriptions are gaining popularity.
“All the things, all the forcing functions here from the outside, all point to dramatic changes speeding up in the content industry,” Cook said. “And so we’re really happy to be working on something — but just not ready to talk about it in depth today.”
Of course, Apple watchers have been waiting for the Cupertino giant to reinvent television since the company’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, laid out his ambitions to biographer Walter Isaacson.
“I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud,” Jobs is quoted as saying. “No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”
So, when might a service launch? Stay tuned for details.