Apple Generates Record Quarterly Services Revenue of $14.5 Billion

Apple Oct. 29 reported record quarterly revenue for its services segment, which includes iTunes, the App Store, Mac App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, AppleCare, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and Apple News+, among others. The segment generated $14.5 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, ended Sept. 26, compared to $12.5 billion in the previous-year period. For the fiscal year, services revenue increased 16% to $53.7 billion from $46.2 billion last year.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company posted record September quarter revenue of $64.7 billion, up 1% from $64 billion in the previous-year period. International sales accounted for 59% of the quarter’s revenue.
“Despite the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, Apple is in the midst of our most prolific product introduction period ever, and the early response to all our new products, led by our first 5G-enabled iPhone lineup, has been tremendously positive,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
CFO Luca Maestri said the quarter capped off a “remarkable” fiscal year in which Apple set all-time records for revenue, earnings per share, and free cash flow, in spite of a challenging macro environment.
“Our sales results…drove our active installed base of devices to an all-time high in all of our major product categories,” Maestri said.
The results glossed over the fact sales of iPhones fell almost 21% in the quarter to $26.4 billion from $33.3 billion last year.  For year, iPhones sales declined 3.3% to $137.8 billion from $142.4 billion last year.

Apple TV+ Orders Docuseries ‘The Supermodels’

Apple TV+ has ordered “The Supermodels,” a docuseries that will feature interviews with Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, who will revisit their iconic modeling careers and the ’90s fashion scene.

From Imagine Documentaries, the project will be directed and executive produced by two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple (American Dream; Shut Up and Sing; Harlan County, USA) and executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, along with Campbell, Crawford, Evangelista and Turlington.

“The Supermodels” travels back to the 1980s, when four women from different corners of the world united in New York. Their prestige was so extraordinary that it enabled the four to supersede the brands they showcased, making the names Naomi, Cindy, Linda and Christy as prominent as the designers who styled them. Today, the four supermodels remain on the frontlines of culture through activism, philanthropy and business prowess. As the fashion industry continues to redefine itself — and women’s roles within it — this is the story of power and how four women came together to claim it, paving the way for those to follow.

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The docuseries, which is produced under Apple’s exclusive first-look agreement with Imagine Documentaries, will also be executive produced by Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes.

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Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and Vizio smart TVs later this year. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can get one year of Apple TV+ for free. This special offer is good for three months after the first activation of the eligible device. For more information, visit apple.com/tvpr.

TikTok Owner Seeks Injunction Stopping App Ban in the U.S.

ByteDance, the Chinese owner of social video platform TikTok, has filed for a preliminary injunction against the Trump Administration’s executive order banning U.S. access to the app, effective on Sept. 27. About 100 million Americans use TikTok on a monthly basis.

The request, filed Sept. 23 in the District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to stop a DOJ mandate ordering Google and Apple to remove the TikTok app from their platforms on Sunday — in addition to ceasing to provide updates for current holders of the app.

ByteDance is currently in negotiations with Oracle and Walmart to sell 20% (for $20 billion) of a new corporate entity called TikTok Global. Trump last weekend publicly gave his approval of deal — until he found out the Chinese would still own 80% of the company. Oracle reportedly said the sale would preclude ByteDance from owning the TikTok app outright.

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Regardless, the Chinese government would have to approve of any deal, which seems increasingly unlikely following reports in the government-owned English newspaper China Times, which called the transaction “dirty and unfair,” and based on “bullying and corruption.”

The Trump Administration, which eyes TikTok as a threat to national security, continues to engage in a war of words with China over trade and technology.

ByteDance says the security fears are overblown and political in nature.

“There is simply no genuine emergency here that would justify the government’s precipitous actions,” read the filing. “And there is no plausible reason to insist the prohibitions be enforced immediately.”

Patricia Arquette to Star in ‘High Desert’ on Apple TV+

Apple TV+ has ordered the half-hour comedy “High Desert,” produced by Apple Studios and starring Academy, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood,” “Escape at Dannemora,” “The Act”), who will also executive produce.

The project reunites Arquette with Ben Stiller (Escape at Dannemora), who will direct the first episode and executive produce through Red Hour Films alongside Nicky Weinstock. Molly Madden and Tom Lassally executive produce on behalf of 3 Arts Entertainment.

“High Desert” follows Peggy (Arquette), a former addict who decides to make a new start after the death of her beloved mother, with whom she lived in the small desert town of Yucca Valley, Calif., and makes a life-changing decision to become a private investigator.

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The series is created and written by Nancy Fichman (“Nurse Jackie,” “Damages”), Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality) and Jennifer Hoppe (“Grace and Frankie,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Damages”), who will also serve as executive producers.

“High Desert” marks Apple’s second partnership with Arquette and Stiller following the series order for “Severance,” an upcoming workplace thriller starring and executive produced by Arquette and Adam Scott, and directed and executive produced by Stiller. Arquette and Stiller both received Emmy Award nominations for their most recent collaboration: the limited series Escape at Dannemora, for which Stiller won the DGA Award and Arquette won Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice Awards.

Starzplay Available Through Apple TV in Middle East, North Africa

Starzplay, Starz’s video-on-demand streaming service, is now available to customers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through Apple TV channels on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, and select Samsung and LG smart TVs.

The service offers Hollywood and Arabic movies, TV shows, documentaries, kids’ entertainment and original content. Customers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt can sign up for a seven-day free trial and subscribe directly to Starzplay on the Apple TV app for $11 per month (prices vary by region).

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“Online streaming in the region is growing faster than ever,” Danny Bates, CCO and co-founder at Starzplay, said in a statement. “As the region’s leading video streaming service, we constantly look for innovative avenues to offer quality content to hungry audiences. Offering Starzplay through Apple TV channels will open up a whole new customer base and further drive the growth of the video streaming market in MENA. We are proud to be the first major content partner for Apple TV channels in the MENA region and look forward to unveiling more compelling content on the platform.”

Subscribers through Apple TV channels can watch online on demand or watch offline downloads of on the Apple TV app. With Family Sharing, up to six friends or family members can share subscriptions to Apple TV channels using just their Apple ID and password.

Disney Offering ‘Mulan’ Access via Roku, Apple, Google Play

The Walt Disney Co. is a longtime champion of preserving the traditional theatrical window, eschewing industry efforts to push premium VOD in the home for new release movies.

As a result, the company’s decision to offer the live-action remake Mulan directly to consumers on Sept. 4 for $29.99 is a one-time bet requiring maximum distribution.

To that end, Disney will sell “premium access” to Mulan to Disney+ subscribers via Google Play, Apple and Roku. The move is significant considering that when CEO Bob Chapek first announced direct-to-consumer access to Mulan on the the company’s fiscal call, it was through Disney+ exclusively. Now Disney will share Mulan revenue with Apple, Roku and Google.

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The move suggests Disney might be having difficulty convincing Disney+ subs to directly purchase the film on its app.

“Starting Sept. 4, with Premier Access, you can watch Mulan before it’s available to all Disney+ subscribers,” Disney said in its FAQ section. “Disney+ will offer Premier Access to Mulan for $29.99 on DisneyPlus.com and select platforms, including Apple, Google and Roku. Once you have Premier Access to Mulan, you can watch as many times as you want on any platform where Disney+ is available. Your access to Mulan will continue as long as you are an active Disney+ subscriber.”

The movie thus far is not available through Amazon Fire TV, Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox, despite the platforms affording access to the Disney+ app.

Apple Orders Thriller Series ‘Shining Girls’ Starring Elizabeth Moss

Apple has ordered a new series, “Shining Girls,” starring Emmy Award winner Elisabeth Moss, for its streaming service Apple TV+.

A metaphysical thriller based on the 2013 best-selling novel by Lauren Beukes, the series stars Moss as a Chicago reporter who survived a brutal assault only to find her reality shifting as she hunts down her attacker.

In addition to starring, Moss will executive produce through Love & Squalor Pictures alongside Lindsey McManus. Leonardo DiCaprio will executive produce through Appian Way alongside Jennifer Davidson. Author Lauren Beukes and Alan Page Arriaga will also serve as executive producers on the project.

Hailing from MRC Television, the series will be adapted for television and executive produced by Silka Luisa, who will also serve as showrunner.

“Shining Girls” follows Apple’s recently announced a straight-to-series order for “The Shrink Next Door,” a new eight-episode limited series from Civic Center Media in association with MRC Television, starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd.

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Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and Vizio smart TVs later this year. For a limited time, customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy one year of Apple TV+ for free. This special offer is good for three months after the first activation of the eligible device. For more information, visit apple.com/tvpr.

Apple TV+ Picks Up Script for Julianne Moore Film ‘Sharper’

Apple has picked up the spec feature screenplay Sharper, starring and produced by Academy Award winner Julianne Moore, for its subscription streaming service Apple TV+.

Sharper follows a con artist, played by Moore, set in the world of Manhattan’s billionaire echelon.

Moore will produce Sharper with Bart Freundlich, Brian Gatewood, Alessandro Tanaka and Erik Feig of Picturestart. Gatewood and Tanaka will write the script. A24 will serve as the studio, with Picturestart attached as the production company.

Sharper marks Moore’s second project with Apple, following the upcoming limited series “Lisey’s Story,” a thriller from writer Stephen King and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Warner Bros. Television, in which Moore will star and executive produce, to premiere exclusively on Apple TV+.

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In addition to Sharper, Apple and A24’s feature film partnership includes On the Rocks from Sofia Coppola, starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, and The Sky Is Everywhere. Apple will also soon premiere Greyhound, starring Tom Hanks, on July 10; and the Sundance 2020 Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary Boys State with A24 as the distribution partner on the film.

Apple TV+ to Debut Sports Doc Series ‘Greatness Code’ July 10

Apple TV+ July 10 will exclusively debut globally the documentary series “Greatness Code,” featuring such top athletes as LeBron James and Tom Brady.

The short-form unscripted series spotlights untold stories from the top athletes in the world. The first season includes seven episodes, each examining a pivotal moment that defined an athlete’s career. Athletes profiled in season one include:

  • four-time NBA MVP, three-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist LeBron James;
  • six-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady;
  • Olympic gold medalist and co-captain of the US Women’s National Soccer Team Alex Morgan;
  • record-holding Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White;
  • world’s fastest man and eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt;
  • five-time Olympic gold medalist and 15-time world champion swimmer Katie Ledecky; and
  • 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater.

 

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“Greatness Code” is a co-production between sports content platforms Religion of Sports, which is co-founded by Gotham Chopra, Tom Brady and NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, and Uninterrupted, founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter.

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The series is directed by Chopra, who also executive produces through Religion of Sports, and executive produced by Maverick Carter via Uninterrupted. Ameeth Sankaran also serves as executive producer through Religion of Sports, and Devin Johnson executive produces via Uninterrupted.

HBO Max Launching on Apple Devices

WarnerMedia April 27 announced that HBO Max, the company’s pending subscription streaming video platform, will be available on Apple devices when it launches on May 27. That includes Apple TV.

Users will be able to access Max on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD. Customers with second and third generation Apple TV models can stream Max content from their iPhone or iPad to their TV with AirPlay. Existing HBO Now subs who are billed through the App Store and HBO subs through Apple TV channels can log in and access the Max app at no additional charge. New Max customers will be able to subscribe directly in the app using in-app purchase.

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“As we prepare for the launch of Max, our focus remains on making it as widely available as possible for customers seeking out this best-in-class streaming experience,” Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution, said in a statement. “The availability to Max across Apple devices is a great addition to our distribution offering and will provide seamless access for millions of customers.”

Max, priced at $14.99, will bow with 10,000 hours of curated content and anchored by the entire HBO service, the platform will also include a slate of new original series, classic series and films from across WarnerMedia’s library and key third-party licensed programs and movies.

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The company recently announced its day one programming slate, which includes six all-new Max Originals — “Love Life,” “On the Record,” “Legendary,” “Craftopia,” “Looney Toons Cartoons” and “The Not Too Late Show with Elmo” — plus an extensive lineup of library and acquired programming including “Friends”; “The Big Bang Theory”; “Doctor Who”; “Rick and Morty”; “The Boondocks”; “The Bachelor”; “Sesame Street”; “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”; CW shows such as “Batwoman,” “Nancy Drew” and “Katy Keene”; the first season of DC’s “Doom Patrol”; “The O.C.”; “Pretty Little Liars”; and the CNN catalog of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” among others.

Other TV libraries include “South Park,” “Gossip Girl” and “The West Wing,” and more than 2,000 feature films within the first year, including classics Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, the “Lord of the Rings” movies, every DC film from the last decade, and films from Japan’s Studio Ghibli animation house.