Why did the cooperation between Apple and China Mobile make the American TV drama party the biggest winner?

Apple's streaming media subscription service Apple TV+ is a slightly alternative existence in the entire Apple ecosystem.

Compared with hardware devices such as iPhone and iPad that are "large, comprehensive and expensive", Apple TV+ has chosen the "small, beautiful and affordable" route.

Although it is not as huge as Netflix and Youtube in terms of market size and investment cost, it still relies on frequent hit series, many high-scoring movies on Douban, and the synergy of the Apple ecosystem to gain many loyal viewers.

It can be said that Apple TV+ is not the main sales force among Apple products, but with its Apple products, it can add to the movie-watching range and experience.

More importantly, friends in China will soon be able to use it.

Apple×China Mobile

According to The Information, a source familiar with the matter said:

Apple last year reached an agreement with China Mobile, China's largest telecom operator, to negotiate the launch of the Apple TV+ video streaming service in China.

If the talks are successful, Apple TV+ will be the only U.S. streaming service available in China, one of the world's largest markets.

Although it is not yet known which step has been discussed, Apple must be the party most eager to reach an agreement, because once Apple TV+ enters the Chinese market, it will have access to more than 200 million Chinese mobile broadband users.

Moreover, these users are already using digital set-top boxes to pay to watch traditional TV channels as well as sports or other streaming services.

Paid services play an important role in Apple's revenue, with services revenue reaching $85.2 billion last year, accounting for 22% of the company's total revenue. Such a large user base can just reverse Apple's weak performance in the field of subscription services in the past few years.

Prior to this, China had not introduced other foreign video streaming services.

Under domestic laws, Apple and other foreign companies are not allowed to operate their own video streaming services in China. However, they can license their content to Chinese partners, allowing the Chinese partners to broadcast a limited number of foreign programs.

In fact, as early as 2016, Disney partnered with Alibaba to briefly provide a subscription service for its movies and TV shows, but the service was shut down less than five months later.

▲ Picture from: Google

Therefore, if this long-term cooperation can be finalized, Apple will open up a new market, an achievement that even companies such as Google and Meta can't match.

The Apple TV+ service has been misunderstood by many people as "needing to be used with Apple TV devices." In fact, there is no strong binding relationship between the two. As long as you subscribe to Apple TV+, you can use it on devices that support the Apple TV App.

The same is true this time with China Mobile, which under the terms of the deal discussed last year will offer Apple TV+ on a monthly basis and highlight Apple's video content on Mobile HD, the set-top box included in China Mobile's broadband service.

Currently, Apple’s video streaming service in the United States charges US$9.99 per month (approximately RMB 72). However, according to the average monthly subscription level of domestic streaming media platforms (20-35 yuan), the charging standard will most likely increase to Make adjustments to achieve better market competitiveness.

But so far, an Apple spokesperson has refused to respond to the matter, and China Mobile has not made any response.

Genuine Apple TV+, but the National Bank

As we mentioned before, Apple TV+, which was only officially launched in 2019, is not yet the leader in the industry. Especially compared with Netflix, which spends a lot of money to make blockbuster movies, Apple TV+, which is new to the market, still has a long way to go.

However, relying on Apple's huge user base, Apple TV+ has accumulated a stable number of paying users.

Compared with buyouts, subscriptions can better reflect the quality of a company's works and its determination for long-term development.

For viewers, the subscription system is also a more cost-effective way of consumption. Once the quality of the platform's production fluctuates, losses can be stopped in time. In order to stabilize the user base, companies will also find ways to provide better-looking movies and series.

Therefore, the subscription system can not only screen out high-quality producers, but also bring new products to the audience that are constantly on the shelves.

Although Apple TV+ is not large in size and has just started, in terms of product quality alone, it has done really well.

In recent years, Apple TV+ has attached great importance to the production of original content and launched a series of high-quality original TV series, movies and documentaries.

For example:

  • "Hearing Girl" won Best Picture at the 2022 Academy Awards;
  • "Killers of the Flower Moon" and "Napoleon" also received 13 nominations for the 2023 Academy Awards;
  • "Football Coach" won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy.

These programs usually involve big-name stars and well-known directors, ensuring the high quality of the content.

Compared with theatrical blockbusters and dramas released by country and region, Apple TV+ content is usually released globally simultaneously, which means that users do not have to wait or worry about spoilers and can watch the latest shows and movies simultaneously with global audiences.

Moreover, Apple TV+ also inherits Apple’s fine tradition: a pure interface and no ads.

▲ Picture from: TechCrunch

Its UI is simple and intuitive, and it will not be interrupted by advertisements during the viewing process, improving the overall viewing experience.

As a software, Apple TV+ has a unique hardware blessing: seamless connection between Apple devices.

Apple TV+ can be watched on a variety of Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. At the same time, it also supports smart TVs, streaming media devices and some game consoles, so users can get a consistent viewing experience.

In addition, Apple TV+ is also deeply integrated with other Apple services and products, such as Apple Music, iCloud and Apple Arcade, to form a complete entertainment ecosystem.

Friends who have requirements for video quality do not need to worry about having to open a separate "Super Membership" for high quality. Many programs in Apple TV+ use 4K HDR picture quality, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. As long as they are played If the device supports it, you can see the top display effect.

Overall, Apple TV+ is quite good, with works, quality, ecology, and prospects; and it is now preparing to land in the mainland market.

But don’t have too high expectations yet, because from the perspective of facilitating the smooth conclusion of the agreement, the National Bank’s Apple TV+ is likely to be a “castrated version”.

The first is the limitation of film sources. Some films that are called masterpieces but do not meet the distribution standards will most likely be removed from the National Bank version. Although some films may only have part of the scene that is not suitable for display, they can be deleted similar to those on Bilibili. Coding solution, but the globally popular Apple TV+ may not produce a single “customized pure version”.

In addition, there are device restrictions. If the agreement is finally reached, Apple will probably not allow the Apple TV App on iPhone, iPad and other devices to display Apple TV+ content in the country, because this may violate the cooperation agreement between the two parties.

The reduction of film sources and ecological disconnection may be the biggest threshold for the local promotion of Apple TV+ this time. After the two core competitiveness are weakened, how to gain a foothold in the market? How to get a piece of the pie from Tencent iQiyi? There are still many things Apple needs to consider and change.

Fortunately, this cooperation is good news after all. At least the audience can see more high-quality films from around the world through formal channels in China.

And this also means that Apple's ecological barriers have been forced to open from the EU's "from the outside in" to actively open "from the inside out".

According to Bloomberg, just at the end of last month, it was revealed that Apple was recruiting a senior Android system software engineer to develop TV and sports applications for Android.

According to this latest recruitment list, some analysts believe that Apple finally plans to introduce Apple TV+ into the competitor Android ecosystem, including Android phones, tablets and other smart device terminals.

Apple is actively promoting a strategic plan to bring the popular Apple TV App to Android phones and tablets. This cross-platform move marks Apple's efforts to break down device barriers and expand the influence of its video services.

By introducing Apple TV+ to the Android platform, Apple can further improve the streaming media App ecosystem and reach a wider user group, thereby increasing the user base of its services and sustainable subscription revenue.

In addition, The Information also reported that Apple has reached a key agreement with Tencent to provide a number of popular applications in the Chinese market on Vision Pro.

Cook has also previously announced that he plans to launch Vision Pro in the Chinese market later this year, and the device has now passed 3C certification.

The Apple ecosystem, known for its closed security, is gradually opening its doors in the fiercely competitive global market. The adaptation of software localization is a prerequisite for the widespread implementation of Apple hardware.

The market is becoming more open and diversified, and companies need to change their "single-player" thinking. The good news is that this time Apple does not intend to talk on paper, but to hold a contract in black and white to show its sincerity.

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