Apple is actively exploring a plan to finance and produce original content under its own branded streaming service, according to a report by Variety. Apple has been speaking with multiple Hollywood executives about hiring the right producing talent, as well as on screen talent itself, claims Variety. This follows previous reports of Apple attempting to obtain rights from local TV stations and national networks for live rebroadcast on its devices.
Apple would be taking on several companies attempting to create entertainment ecosystems, extending from hardware to original and licensed programming. Amazon has its Prime video service coupled with the Fire TV, while Google has YouTube and its dominant Android platform and Chromecast. Others have taken a purely content-agnostic approach like Roku, while Netflix and HBO are content-only. Microsoft's Xbox division also flirted with creating original entertainment under its own banner, but that effort was cut short by executives.
From a strategic perspective, Apple has a number of potential avenues to explore, in addition to a streaming service. Armed with over $200 billion in cash, Cupertino could acquire music, film and entertainment studios outright. Such a move is not unprecedented. Consumer electronics giants Matsushita and Sony diversified in the late 1980s by buying movie studios and record labels. At the time, the acquisitions were seen as a way to ensure that the companies profited from the content that their hardware users consume, as well as hedge against any erosion of their respective hardware businesses. While Matsushita eventually sold its stake in Universal, Sony has held on.
It's unlikely that any entertainment content service will be announced at the September 9 event, widely believed to be the launch event for new iPhones and an updated Apple TV device. There have been numerous reports regarding which features will debut on the updated Apple TV, including Siri. But we may have to wait longer to fully understand the scope of Apple's entertainment ambitions.