Does Apple Have Something Big Planned for March?

Another day, another rumor about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). While it’s all part of being an Apple investor, sometimes there’s more to the stories than just idle gossip. It can be particularly intriguing when several reports coalesce to something that’s more than the sum of their parts, suggesting that there might be some underlying truth in the tales.

That’s precisely what’s happening right now. While we haven’t had any official confirmation from Apple, it seems there might be a big announcement coming in March. The timing wouldn’t be out of character for the iPhone maker, as the company has often scheduled product debuts in that month.

The landing screen for Apple TV showing numerous viewing options.


A big debut in the making?

CEO Tim Cook recently signaled that new services will debut this year:

On services, you will see us announce new services this year. There will [be] more things coming. I don’t want to tell you about what they are and I’m not going to forecast precisely… But they’re things that we feel really great about, that we’ve been working on for multiple years.

A recent report by Buzzfeed, citing unnamed sources, says that Apple is planning a big announcement at the Steve Jobs Theater on its Apple Park campus on March 25. Those same sources “described the event as subscription-services focused,” according to the report.

With a tentative date penciled in, here are a few possibilities for Apple’s big reveal.

The long-awaited subscription news service

There have been multiple accounts that a subscription service for news buffs is in the offing, which The Wall Street Journal is calling “Netflix for news.” The service would provide unlimited access to content from a number of participating publishers for one monthly subscription price. Negotiations are ongoing, and some content providers have bristled at Apple’s proposed 50% cut of subscription revenue, which could impact the timing of the launch.

The remaining revenue would be divided pro rata among the publishers, allocated on the basis of how much time users spent on each provider’s articles. The rumored price for the service is $10 per month.

The much-ballyhooed video streaming service

In late 2011, Steve Jobs told his biographer that he had “cracked” the code for television. Since then, rumors of an Apple television offering have been ever-present, the current Apple TV product notwithstanding.

Over the past couple of years, Apple has made no secret of its original content ambitions. After humble early attempts like Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke: The Series, the company reportedly budgeted more than $1 billion for original movies and television series. The amount of star power behind the reports includes big names like Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, J.J. Abrams, and M. Night Shyamalan. Still, even as these projects have progressed, many have wondered aloud what Apple’s endgame might be.

The widely-reported answer is that Apple plans to launch a global steaming video service, which could debut in April. In addition to its original content, sources say Apple will offer subscriptions to high-profile cable channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz. The service would debut first in the U.S. and roll out globally thereafter.

The Apple TV and remote.


The timing’s the thing

Apple is known for its secrecy, but it isn’t any secret that the company will increasingly look to its services and subscriptions for growth in light of the slowing sales of its flagship iPhone. The timing of the rumored March product announcement ties in nicely with the potential debut of both the news subscription service and the streaming video offering. Both also integrate perfectly with Apple’s need to boost its service and subscription revenue to drive future growth.

This is all conjecture until Apple makes it official, but in light of the timing, it sure makes a lot of sense.