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iMore LIVE at Apple's March 2019 Show Time Event!

Apple is holding its special event on March 25, 2019, at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park, in Cupertino California. It kicks off at 10am PDT, 1pm EDT, and we're here live there to bring you back all the action.

You can follow Lory Gil's live reactions and analysis on Twitter @appaholik and Rene Ritchie's @reneritchie. Also: All the behind the scenes action and fun.

So, what are we expecting to see?

Apple News Premium

Apple News was announced at WWDC 2015 and launched as part of iOS 9 for the iPhone and iPad in the U.S. and, soon thereafter, the U.K. and Australia. And then, nothing. Years and years of nothing and more nothing until January, 2019 when it Apple News launched in Canada.

That's a far sight from the 100 countries Apple Music rolled out in at launch, and the 110-ish it's in now.

But, Apple hadn't been standing still entirely. There were updates to the News app in subsequent versions of iOS, and a UIKit port included with macOS Mojave. They also hired more editors and, in the age of social network media manipulation, began aggressively curating politics, sports, entertainment, and more.

And, of course, in March of 2018, Apple bought Texture, a magazine subscription app for iOS and Android, previously backed by Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation, News Corp, Rogers Media, and Time. Many call Texture the "Netflix of Magazines", because all the magazines for one low sub, but that label only really worked before Netflix began focusing on original content. Texture creates precisely zero original content. A better analogy is the "Apple Music of News".

Apple Music was originally an iOS and Android subscription music service by Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, before Apple bought it along with the rest of Beats.

Apple then integrated it into iTunes on Mac and Windows, and the Music app on iPhone and iPad, and rolled it out to those aforementioned 100 countries. And, yeah, even updated and kept around the Android app for the monthly price of $10 for singles and $15 for families.

That could be the same play here. An Apple-ized version of Texture gets melted into the existing News app.

The platform strategy may be a little different, though. There's already a marzipan app on the Mac, though it still needs a lot of Mac-liking. Apple killed the Texture app for Windows 10 almost immediately though. Will there be a new one? Serious lols at anyone who suggests just grafting it onto the existing iTunes monstrosity. In the Windows 10 Store. But, now, oh god, I kinda totally want to see that so badly now… Sorry.

There's a Texture app for Android, so all Apple would have to do there — I say as someone who can't code a line — is reverse integrate News into that. If not ready at launch, then at least on the roadmap.

International availability is still a huge question. Apple has shown they can push music out around the world. They've not shown the same with news. And it makes international customers feel not just less appreciated, but as though they're being treated as lesser customers. So, there we'll have to wait and see.

The huger question, of course, is price. Many news pups already charge $10 a month. That makes it tough to afford more than a couple at any time. Apple News Premium would step in as a bundling service offering publishers a bigger potential pool of customers and customers a single, overall far cheaper bundle. Texture was already charging $10 a month to do just that, albeit magazines only.

Would $10 for a single and $15 for a family sub to Apple's new News work as well? For the publishers, if they could make it up on volume — don't laugh! I almost laughed. For customers?

Hold that thought.

Apple Gaming

Google, Microsoft, Valve, Sony — they're all getting into some form of game streaming. But Apple's strength is in the silicon and the privacy and the local device. So, could an Apple premium subscription gaming service better fit their bill?

Some worry it would lead to games that try to trap your attention through ever-increasing conspiracy and sensationalism, like Facebook Newsfeed or YouTube recommended. Others, that it could just be the future of sustainable gaming.

If it has some exclusives and a strict code of conduct, and developers can really see revenue, maybe it could be the best of both.

Apple Video

Apple's been doing video for a while now as well. Sure, it's been Carpool Karaoke and the tragedy that was Planet of the Apps. But, Apple's been doing it and pushing it out through… Apple Music.

Yeah, music-themed video on a Music-themed service. But, video.

For the last while, though, Apple has also been putting together an armada of original programming. Comedies. Dramas. Contemporary. Science fiction. Adaptions. TV. Movies.

The producers, directors, stars, and source materials read like a who's who and what's what of some of the biggest names and best properties in the business.

So Apple will have new content. Hopefully really good new content. But more than a few questions remain here as well.

Will it be moved over to the TV app? That'd make sense but, unlike Apple Music, TV isn't in very many countries at all yet. That can change, if Apple thinks English-language programming has a big enough audience internationally.

Will Apple have catalog content? Bloomberg says:

Users will also be able to pay to access shows from other providers, such as Starz, as is possible with Amazon's video service.

But that's not the same thing. Netflix has amazing original programming, but it started off with catalog content. Quantity before quality. Amazon has both as well. So does pretty much every streaming service. Original content is great but when people finish watching it they want to keep watching something else.

Will there be a Windows app or Android app? Apple has recently made deals with Samsung to provide iTunes for their smart TVs, and with Vizio, Sony, and LG to provide AirPlay 2 support. That's the cross-platform play. But what about other PCs and phones?

How much will it cost? Rumor again has it that some content will be free, but what about the rest of it? Will it be another $10 a month for singles, $15 for families?

Again. Hold that thought.

Apple TV Express

Even though Apple's made deals with Samsung, Sony, Vizio, and LG, which covers a lot of a the TV market, iTunes and AirPlay 2 support is only coming to the most recent versions of those TVs.

Fake Apple TV Stick Concept

Fake Apple TV Stick Concept (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

People with older TVs can still get an Apple TV 4 or Apple TV 4K box to watch Apple's new streaming video service, but that's a minute of money up front.

Amazon and Google both offer cheaper TV sticks. I've been writing for years about how I'd love an Apple TV Express stick, and even made a video about it a couple months ago when The Information caught up on those rumors as well.

But it doesn't sound like Apple is anywhere near shipping it yet. Still, what a great stage to announce it on if they are.

One More Price

$10 a month here. $10 a month there. Add it up and… yeah, it's real money.

What makes audio like Spotify and Apple Music work is that you get effective all the music in the world for that one low price. There are a few differences in the catalogs of the different services, but nothing mainstream critical.

What makes video like Netflix and Prime not work anywhere nearly as well is that you get a relatively small, fractured, piecemeal amount of the world's video for your money. And, unlike music where all the record labels are in all the services, every Hollywood and international studio seemingly wants its own exclusive service, sometimes by property — looking at you, DC.

Imagine if you had to pay separate subscriptions for Warner and Sony music, and separate subscriptions for big artists like The Beatles and, I dunno, Bon Jovi or the Gaga.

But that's what the industry wants us to do for video, and the creeping costs are real. Netflix + Prime + CBS + Apple + Disney ++. We may all want to cut the cable cord but their digital land grabs are going to have us all running and screaming back to bundles.

And that's just music and video. Apple's also going to be doing subscription news.

For the sake of argument, straw person argument, of course, let's just say each one is $10 and $15 a month. That's $30 and $45 for singles and families respectively, and only for the Apple stuff.

Music and news, you're fine, but video, well, Prime takes care of itself, but you'd probably still want Netflix, maybe one or two others. And now you're up at $60, maybe $70, and you still don't have local channels, sports, video news, whatever.

It's a Thanos-style moon being dropped slowly towards us, and like Tony, we're eventually going to lose it. That's not all Apple's problem to solve, but it's the reality Apple will be offering services in, and a huge opportunity if they can figure it out.

A good place to start would be an Apple Plus subscription. Get everything Apple, including Music, News, Video, and maybe some unique differentiators like iCloud storage, AppleCare+ protection, who knows, maybe even the iPhone Upgrade Program, all bundled together for one industry moving price.

It might be a logistical nightmare for Apple to work out, especially considering all the media stakeholders, but It would also be a way to get, lockdown, and reward buy-in from Apple's most engaged customers.

That might make it worth much more than the cost of any single sub, for everyone involved.

Any more things?

As always, nothing is official until Apple sends out invitations, executives make announcements, and we get all the new hardware and software in our hands.

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Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

33 Comments
  • "anticipointment"? Nice. It took me a couple seconds to parse that.
  • Honestly, I am quite amazed at how busy the Apple Store is every time I go in there, considering just how ancient and long-in-the-tooth some of the products are that are sitting on the shelves. Products that have been waiting 4-5 years since their last upgrades and updates. I broke down and bought a new iMac a couple months ago to replace my 6-year old one that had been declared "vintage" and was now un-updateable software-wise, but what I replaced it with, the current model, is one that has the same form factor as iMacs from many years ago and the same internals as models from a few years ago. Yes, Apple has upgraded the Mini and some Macbooks, but the iMac and absolutely ancient Mac Pro are not "current" products by any means.
  • People are in the Apple Store primarily for iOS devices, that's Apple's big seller
  • The cord cutting dreams of digital content are becoming a nightmare. Ala carte means 2X the cost of our prior outrageous bundled content. This nightmare stampede of publishers and content makers to the digital trough is making cable, Comcast, Dish, Direct, etc. look pretty tame. Now you can't even get CBS' entire menu - the new "good stuff" goes to their premium streaming service...we were so naive to think this was getting better...I swear I read somewhere that just before he died, Steve said he had this "all figured out" and look where we are landing...on a speeding comet just like Armageddon.
  • So no iMac refresh/update, no Mac Pro, nothing much in the way of hardware? Sounds like Apple is going full tilt toward services. Meanwhile here I sit with a late 2013 iMac 14,2 that’s working just fine running Mojave but is beginning to showing its age. Now what? How long do I wait? Do I just give up and jump ship?
  • Apple aren't just going to stop making Macs, although I understand your frustration. It's just going to be a longer wait than normal
  • El oh el. It's been years since they've updated the Mac line in any meaningful way. How much longer do they need?
  • Who knows, like I said, I understand his frustration, but jumping ship is a big step to take
  • So the iMac Pro does not count as meaningful to you? The latest Minis?
  • Far from it
  • Wow, you are one jaded person! So please enlighten me then when was the last time you consider the Mac had "meaningful updates"?
  • I've bought my mac book pro in 2014 and at that time I thought it had a lot to offer. 5 years later, and the MBP line looks pretty much the same with no meaningful added capabilities. Just like the iphone, MBP is being smoked by competition and is behind in innovation and offered capabilities. The laptop has worked well but as it comes closer for me to want to get a new laptop, I will switch back to a windows laptop as I will get much more bang for my buck in terms of capabilities (ie. touch screen) and hardware, ports, app compatibility for the same price. I was never a slave to Apple's ecosystem so it will be a pretty common sense decision for me.
  • A laptop is a laptop, not sure what you're expecting, the only "new" thing Windows laptops have offered is a touchscreen, which most people that buy them don't use or use rarely. Apple hardware in the MBP has never been as powerful as other laptops, but on the other hand the OS is much more optimised so more power can be squeezed out of the hardware, and you get more battery life. Many Windows laptops are overpowered, and have a terrible battery life or become so hot they're uncomfortable to use
  • "which most people that buy them don't use or use rarely." Please provide a reputable source for your dumb comment. And it better not be "from what I've seen" as i could care less about what "you" have seen. From now on I'm gonna make you accountable for the dumb nonesense you keep typing, lets see how it'll hold up.
  • Ok maybe that's not completely true, but what is true is that many Windows applications still aren't optimised for touch, hence forcing users to use a trackpad or mouse. If Apple wanted to put a touchscreen on a Mac, it would require a big redesign of the OS, not to mention all the applications. It also still doesn't change the fact that there's not much new on Windows laptops either.
  • Yeah, didn't think so. requiring a big redesign in OS to be able to match competition is not my problem and shouldn't be your excuse to justify why it's OK to be behind the curve of what technology can offer these days. I've used Windows 10 on touch laptops with the apps that I regularly use and have had zero issues. Touch capability and getting more hardware for the same price, makes moving to Windows-based laptop a no-brainer for me. If there are a few apps that aren't touch optimized yet, then guess what, i'll have the option of using keyboard and mouse, no big deal.
  • There are more than a "few apps" that aren't optimised yet, and maybe Apple doesn't want an experience where some apps still require keyboard and mouse. It might be a no-brainer for you, but for the rest of the public there are much bigger considerations than a touchscreen, for example many apps I rely on are macOS-exclusive. Not to mention I don't really like Windows, and Linux has a limited selection of apps. Besides, my original point was that Windows laptops haven't really offered much new either, touchscreens don't seem that amazing anymore now that they're commonplace on mobiles and tablets. Name me some amazing new innovations that Windows laptops have, that Macbooks don't.
  • As I repeated 3 times already for me, touchscreen, more multimedia ports, and more powerful hardware for the same price are OBJECTIVE facts about top tier windows laptops that make the decision a no-brainer to me. You not liking Windows is a SUBJECTIVE you-problem that I don't care for.
  • More multimedia ports makes no sense, the MacBooks have USB-C ports which cover almost anything. More powerful hardware has always been the case, although that's nothing new or innovative, and often results in an uncomfortably hot laptop or shorter battery life. The original point was that you said:
    "MBP line looks pretty much the same with no meaningful added capabilities" whereas the Windows laptop line looks pretty much the same as well, aside from the touchscreen. All laptops get hardware upgrades, and yes the Macs are usually less powerful, but they usually also have much better battery life.
  • My original point and current point is that, MBP has been stale. High end Windows laptops have improved significantly over the years in terms stability and durability, coupled with the fact that they offer better hardware (as always) + touchscreen + 4K screens + more ports for the same price, the move for me is a no-brainer. The laptop i am looking at to buy has no "heating issues". 2010 called and wants it talking points back.
  • Still don't know what you're getting at with "more ports", you mean 5 instead of 4? What's the point of a 4K screen on a small laptop screen? Good luck trying to watch a 4K movie on battery. So far, your "not stale" Windows laptop is a laptop with more ports (lol), a touchscreen where many apps still aren't optimised for it, and a power-draining 4K display where it can't even be properly appreciated due to the size of the display.
  • Yup so far my Windows Laptop is one with better screen, more ports, more RAM, touchscreen, better CPU for same price or cheaper. No-brainer.
  • It's a no-brainer for you, but for many others it's not, as there are other things to consider such as OS, applications, battery life etc.
  • I'm not making decisions for the Koolaid army, I'm making decisions for myself, and for me it's a no brainer
  • Great, but regardless, Windows laptops are still just as stale as Macs, even if they're faster and have touchscreens
  • stop typing nonesense fanboy
  • Now you've resorted to dumb comments, well done.
  • I'v already made my point, not sure why you keep typing...got nothing more to tell you on this topic...from now on its just dealing with your pathological obsession about having the last word
  • You haven't made your point. You said MacBooks are stale and Windows laptops are not, and then you said in _your_ opinion, Windows laptops having slightly better hardware makes them not stale, which is farcical.
  • obession is real...simmer down chihuaha
  • And we conclude this comment thread knowing that you prefer Windows laptops. But still both laptop lines are just as stale.
  • "$10 a month here. $10 a month there. Add it up and… yeah, it's real money." Pretty much this. I am not remotely interested in getting charged $40 every month for Apple Music/News/Arcade/TV+. At least I have completely avoided the horrible trap of subscription software. edit: no idea why the comment system placed my comment as a reply here - I typed it in as a reply to the article itself.
  • I avoided the subscription trap as well, and will continue to do so. If my favorite apps end up going to a subscription model I will stick with the old versions or find alternatives.