HBO CEO Richard Plepler, speaking at an investor presentation hosted by HBO parent company Time Warner, said the company will start selling in 2015 a digital version of its service that won’t require a pay-TV subscription.
Plepler said the company will go “beyond the wall” and launch a “stand-alone, over the top” version of HBO in the U.S. next year, and would work with “current partners,” and may work with others as well. But he wouldn’t provide any other detail.
Even that vague statement is a milestone for HBO, Time Warner and the TV business in general. For years, Time Warner and HBO have said they’re happy with the existing system, where HBO is sold to consumers by TV providers, and is usually only available to customers who are already buying another bundle of TV networks.
That arrangement helped generate $4.9 billion in revenue for HBO last year, and also kept pay-TV providers like Comcast happy.
But now, under pressure from investors to show that Time Warner can extract more value from HBO, Plepler and Time Warner seem willing to risk upsetting that structure. The move will also be seen as a response to the rise of Netflix, which has more than 50 million subscribers for its Web video service, and may generate more revenue than HBO this year.
The upside is that HBO will be able to market itself to customers who don’t want to buy a full “bundle” of pay-TV channels, or may not get any pay-TV package at all, a number Plepler pegged at 10 million. The downside is that the Comcasts of the world, which HBO will still want to market its service, may punish the company.
Ron Johnson, the man widely regarded as the brains behind the creation of Apple’s hugely successful chain of retail stores, is on the verge of launching a “high-end, on-demand delivery service for gadgets.”
Several people with knowledge of Johnson’s plans says that the former Apple retail chief has been talking to a number of smartphone manufacturers, among other firms, about the project.
He’s even reported to have brought on board former Apple executive Jerry McDougal to help realize his plan.
While Johnson’s startup is expected to be primarily focused on delivering tech to customers, it’s also suggested that customer service and advice will form a significant part of the business, which describes itself as “Best Buy’s Geek Squad meets Apple’s Genius Bar.”
It’s not immediately clear on what kind of scale Johnson’s service will launch, or exactly when it’s likely to start operating.
Johnson joined Apple in 2000, helping to develop and design Apple’s approach to retail, with the company’s first stores opening in 2001. The stores, with their minimalist design, glass fronts and staircases, and wooden tables showing off the company’s latest devices, proved popular with consumers who until then had become accustomed to more humdrum tech shopping experiences. Other electronics firms have since imitated Apple’s approach to retail shopping with similarly designed stores of their own.
Under Johnson’s guidance, Apple’s retail arm saw huge sales growth, generating billions of dollars in revenue. The Cupertino company’s brick-and-mortar operation has since expanded to more than 430 locations in around 15 countries.
After a stint at JC Penney following his departure from Apple in 2011, Johnson now looks to be turning his back on brick-and-mortar shopping and is instead looking at a delivery-based experience for shoppers.
The former Apple executive revealed his approach to the retail business a couple of years ago, saying that it was always his aim to “rethink everything.”
“Retailing’s always been about creativity, it’s about creating exciting new ways for people to shop, new products for people to purchase, new ways to do things,” Johnson said.
In the aftermath of the recent Apple Live event, in which the cult of Cupertino unveiled the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Apple Watch, and new features like Apple Pay, the Apple TV faithful were once again left in the lurch, with no mention of a new device in sight. However, with today’s release of iOS 8, a surrogate gift was offered up for third-generation Apple TV owners, in the form of a revamped beta interface, new photo and sharing features, and a new Beats Music app.
It’s not surprising to see Beats Music show up on the latest Apple TV, considering Apple recently threw down $3 billion for the entire Beats Electronics family. The new Beats Music channel should make a nice addition to the device’s stable of apps, especially for those with a decent home-theater system to listen through.
Perhaps even more significant is the upgrade to the Apple TV’s interface. First reported by 9to5 Mac, the new design flattens the app icons and thins out the text to line up with the look and feel of iOS. According to the report, the upgrade also brings support for iOS 8’s iCloud Photo Library, as well as Family Sharing, which allows multiple Apple ID accounts to share a single credit card for iTunes purchases.
General Motors’ next generation infotainment system, the new MyLink was intended to bring a bevy of new entertainment, information and lifestyle apps into the Chevy dashboard, all accessible from GM’s own app store.
AppShop never made it into any of GM’s new 4G cars released this summer. Nor did promised apps like NPR, Slacker Radio, Kaliki, or Glympse (the exception is Pandora) roll off the lot along with new GM models.
What happened? Well GM abandoned its strategy of doing it themselves.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both user-interface layers that run on top of automakers’ own infotainment operating systems, essentially projecting a driver-optimized version of popular apps from the smartphone onto the dashboard screen. So instead of downloading a separate version of Spotify or Google Maps for your car, you can use the same app in your phone, interacting with it using the car’s touchscreen controls or buttons.
GM is now basically handing over development of any app that isn’t directly tied to the vehicle’s core driving capabilities over to Apple and Google.
– Apple announces two new iPhones: The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen. The iPhone 5s, for comparison, had a 4.0-inch screen.
– The iPhone 6 will cost $199 for a 16GB and will be available on September 19th. The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 for a 16GB phone and will also be available on September 19th.
– iOS 8 will be available as a free download on September 17th.
– Apple also announces Apple Pay, a new system to let you pay at the register by tapping your iPhone.
– And finally: Apple announces the Apple Watch, with a new control system from the watch’s dial or “crown.” You’ll be able to send messages, talk to Siri, listen to music, and check your pulse.