Apple eyes deeper integration of ecosystem in 2020

Apple eyes deeper integration of ecosystem in 2020
Apple eyes deeper integration of ecosystem in 2020

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Apple has pledged to further focus on deeply integrating its ecosystem following a historic year for its services segment, a clear sign that it is going head-strong into the hyper-competitive industry.

The iPhone maker had a landmark 2019, during which it introduced a slew of new services, including Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and Apple Card - all of which touch key sectors from entertainment to finance. 

These complemented the continued successes achieved by the App Store, Apple Music and iCloud.

"2019 was the biggest year for services in Apple's history. We introduced several exciting new experiences for our customers, all while setting the standard for user privacy and security," said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice-president of Internet software and services.

"We begin the new decade with incredible momentum and gratitude to our customers who have shown such enthusiasm for all of our services, and we continue to celebrate the work of the world's best creators, storytellers, journalists and developers."

Apple will continue to collaborate with developers and creators this year, offering new levels of creativity, choice and innovation across original series and films, podcasts, music, news, games, apps, payments and unique experiences.

In its latest fourth-quarter results, the company's revenue hit an all-time high of $12.5 billion.

This, among its other successful categories, has helped the Cupertino-headquartered maintain its trillion-dollar market capitalisation; early on Wednesday, it was at around $1.31 trillion.

App and away

Apple's App Store welcomes half-a-billion visitors each week. Since it was launched in 2008, developers have earned over $155 billion, with a quarter of those earnings coming from the past year alone.

During the recent holiday season alone, App Store customers spent a record $1.42 billion between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, a 16 per cent increase over last year, and $386 million on New Year's Day 2020 alone, a 20 per cent increase over last year and a new single-day record.

Recently, the company revealed its best apps of 2019, naming Spectre Camera (iPhone), Flow by Moleskine (iPad), Affinity Publisher (Mac) and The Explorers (Apple TV) as apps of the year for their respective devices, with 'Storytelling Simplified' the app trend for last year.

Meanwhile, Sky: Children of the Light (iPhone), Hyper Light Drifter (iPad), GRIS (Mac) and Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap (Apple TV) were named the best games, with 'Blockbusters Reimagined' the prevailing trend of 2019.

Sounds of success

Apple Music offers over 60 million songs in 115 countries. Its new time-synced lyrics feature was a highlight in 2019; over 50 per cent of listeners have used it on iOS 13. Apple Podcasts, on the other hand, offers free audio stories and now delivers listeners over 800,000 shows in 155 countries on more devices than ever before.

Apple News, meanwhile, draws over 100 million monthly active users in the US, UK, Australia and Canada. This year, it will provide live coverage of key moments in the US presidential election in partnership with ABC News.

Game and watch

One of the most highly-anticipated launches from the company, Apple TV+, made history as the first streaming platform to receive multiple Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations in its launch year, and is the first and only streaming service to debut instantly in over 100 countries and regions. The Apple TV app, meanwhile, now offers over 30 channels.

The company's move - a challenge to established players like Netflix - was a long time coming. Apple even undercut the opposition, charging significantly lower monthly fees and even giving away free one-year Apple TV+ subscriptions for device purchases.

Another service that was highly touted was Apple Arcade, the company's entry into the fast-evolving gaming sector. It offers users unlimited access to an entire catalogue of more than 100 new and exclusive games, all playable across Apple devices.

The gaming sector is becoming a very lucrative market. Newzoo research showed that global revenue for the industry will reach $148.8 billion in 2019, and hit almost $190 billion by 2022.

Right on the money

Apple also reinforced its financial offerings with Apple Card and Apple Pay. In December, customers began using Apple Card monthly installments to purchase new iPhones and pay for them over 24 months with zero interest. In 2019, entry to more than 150 stadiums, ballparks, arenas and entertainment venues around the world were available with contactless tickets on the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Customers could ride public transit with Apple Pay in some of the largest cities in the world, including Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, London and New York.

Cash and contactless payments are gaining momentum, as more users realise the convenience it brings. The sector is expected to expand into further industries, providing both economic and consumer benefits.

In 2020, customers will be able to tap their iPhone and Apple Watch to ride trains and buses in even more cities, including Washington DC, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Foshan.

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