Apple unveils streaming service, iPhone with more cameras

Apple Inc revealed on Tuesday that its streaming TV service will kick off Nov. 1 and cost $5.99 a month in Canada, as the tech giant reaches a turning point where it focuses as much on services as its hardware and software.

Apple TV+ will be available in 100 countries and buyers of an iPhone, iPad or Mac will get a free year of streaming television service, the company announced at an event streamed live online.

The announcement puts Apple a few steps ahead of Disney Plus, the other big streaming newcomer that’s launching a little over a week later, on Nov. 12. Apple TV+ will also be three dollars cheaper than Disney’s $8.99 monthly price tag.

The two steaming platforms add to a growing number of alternatives to cable in Canada, which include Netflix, Bell Media’s Crave, CBC Gem and Amazon Prime Video.

New iPhone models

Apple also unveiled Tuesday the annual upgrades to the iPhone, which resemble recent models, but with better cameras and new colours. The most-expensive models, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, will now have three cameras on the back, including a new, wider-angle one to squeeze more of the landscape into the picture. They start at $1,379 Cdn.

The cheaper model called the iPhone 11 will start at $979. It now gets two lenses instead of one. The new phones come out Sept. 20.

While the iPhone still makes up more than half of Apple’s sales, Tuesday’s event may have nudged it off centre stage after a decade in the limelight.

Apple long boasted about its competitive advantage over rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which makes handsets, or Alphabet Inc’s Google, which provides the Android operating system for most of the world’s phones. Apple touted controlling both the hardware and software, resulting in polished products that commanded premium prices and captured most of the smart phone industry’s profits.

At the fall event in the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California — typically Apple’s splashiest and dedicated to its flagship devices — Apple is cementing a third element to its focus: hardware, software and services.

The new strategy, which Apple hinted at an event in March where it gave some details about the streaming TV service, comes as iPhone sales have declined year-over-year for the past two fiscal quarters and investors are fixed on the growth potential for services.

Video game service in App Store

Apple also announced its video game service, Apple Arcade, will be a tab in the App Store and available starting Sept. 19, costing $5.99 a month in Canada, with a one-month free trial.

“This is the first time we’ll get to see Apple’s strategy with all three parts of the business,” said Ben Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies.

With no historic library of television content of its own, Apple will sell its own service even as it already serves as a reseller of other channels like HBO and, analysts believe, takes a cut of sales. Bajarin said Apple’s challenge is to persuade consumers that its family of devices, from its set-top box to phones, are the best one-stop place to watch shows, despite the fact that Netflix has yet to come on board with the integrated viewing system. (Netflix remains available as a standalone app on Apple devices, and its shows appear in search results in the Apple TV app.)

“Netflix is sort of gaping void” in the Apple TV app “but they’ve got Amazon and all the channels on board,” Bajarin said. “The vast majority of content providers are playing nice with Apple TV.”

As for the new model of the Apple’s next internet-connected smartwatch, it features an always-on display that lets users check time and other features without raising or tapping it. Many competing watches already have that.

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