The pieces are falling into place, finally. At CES, still in full throttle at the time of writing, a number of TV manufacturers for some reason announced they would support several major Apple services, including AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and even iTunes.
Without context, it looks as if these manufacturers are simply warming up to Apple's entertainment ecosystem, and that the Cupertino brand, typically preferring to keep a wall over its garden, is letting them in. Think again.
Reports last year had indicated that Apple would finally roll out its video streaming service in the first half of 2019, and now CEO Tim Cook has subtly hinted as much in a new CNBC interview.
Apple's TV Streaming Service Is Almost Here
Cook said Apple will announce new "services" this year. He didn't offer much beyond that when asked whether the Cupertino company had any tricks slated for 2019, including healthcare or mobile payments. Still, it's safe to assume Cook is referring to the hotly anticipated video streaming service that'll rival Netflix.
If it's scheduled to come sometime during the first half of this year, those TV announcements at CES suddenly make perfect sense. Of course manufacturers are suddenly including support for Apple's video-centric features. Is it a stretch to think Apple is preparing for the rollout of its streaming service? — And that the easiest way to ensure as many people as possible adopt it is by opening up AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and iTunes to swaths of TVs? — Perhaps not. Taken in this context, everything falls into place.
With AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support, it'll be easier for iOS users to cast content from their iPhone, iPad, or Mac to non-Apple TVs, including those from rivaling companies such as Samsung and Google. Samsung's newer TVs will even support iTunes on top of that, letting users access their movie and TV library on the big screen.
In the content department, Apple also has it all figured out. Last June, it was reported the company was spending a whopping $1 billion toward production of original shows. Other reports also said some shows would debut this March. It's hard to ascertain which celebrities, writers, or creators Apple has signed onboard, but Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and many other high-profile Hollywood names are attached to different projects.
Even if this TV service is what Apple is referring to when talking about its forthcoming services, it remains unclear what else it has up its sleeve.