Apple's big event

6:32 p.m. ET, March 22, 2019

Apple's latest hardware drops without the usual fanfare

Last week, Apple announced a number of surprise product upgrades -- and that means that Monday's event could be all about its reported streaming service. The iPhone maker typically creates fanfare around the arrival of new hardware, so the fact that it quietly announced its new gadgets with press releases and nothing more was curious.

The new products include:

  • New versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini, the company's first updates on those devices in years. Both work with the Apple Pencil for the first time, and have a processor that's three times faster than predecessors. 
  • Next-generation wireless earbuds, AirPods -- which feature a wireless charging case, improved battery life and hands-free access to its Siri voice assistant.
  • Faster, smarter iMacs. While the basic design is the same, they have a 4k display, quicker processors and improved graphics chips. 
3:33 p.m. ET, March 22, 2019

Everyone expects a streaming service, but maybe we're wrong

We don't know much about Apple's reported video service -- and according to Recode's Peter Kafka, it may not even be a video service at all.

"Apple doesn't want to run its own video service: It wants to run a video store," Kafka tweeted Thursday. "All those shows it is creating are meant to get you to buy more Showtime."

He elaborated that same day in his Recode story, explaining that Apple won't debut a competitor to Netflix (NFLX) on Monday. Instead, he says:

Apple’s main focus — at least for now — will be helping other people sell streaming video subscriptions and taking a cut of the transaction."

It could do this by offering "a package of HBO, Showtime, and Starz at a price that’s lower than you’d pay for each pay TV service on its own."

This sounds a lot more like Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video than Netflix. So what about all that content that Apple (AAPL) reportedly spent billions on? Kafka thinks the shows "should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product."

This narrative may be less exciting than intensifying streaming wars, Kafka points out, but it makes sense from Apple's POV.

One thing we do know for sure: Netflix will definitely not be a part of Apple's new service, whatever it is.

3:33 p.m. ET, March 22, 2019

Apple's streaming competition will be fierce

Apple (AAPL) is potentially entering a streaming market that's already packed, and growing fast. Some of Hollywood's biggest are launching their own streaming services in 2019.

  • Disney (DIS) will demo its new service Disney+ at an investor day on April 11. The House of Mouse has one of the biggest content libraries around: We're talking "Star Wars," Marvel, Disney Animation, Pixar and 21st Century Fox's titles. Disney also owns 60% of Hulu, which gives it an even bigger piece of the streaming pie.
  • AT&T's (T) WarnerMedia, CNN's parent company, is also getting into streaming. The company's offering will be broken down into three tiers: An entry level version that will be focused on movies, a premium version that will have original programming, and another tier that will include both as well as a library of licensed content. Think "Harry Potter" and HBO.
  • A service from NBCUniversal will host a wide array of content from its own library. That includes hit film franchises such as "The Fast and the Furious" and hit TV shows like "The Office."
  • Then there's Netflix (NFLX): The granddaddy of them all. Netflix dominates thanks to a content strategy that has something for everyone. Reality shows like "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo," dramas such as "The Crown," Oscar winning films like "Roma," and franchises that have huge fan bases like "Stranger Things" have helped Netflix change the way we watch TV and movies. It's also helped Netflix grow to 139 million subscribers around the world.

And those are just the big names in the space -- there are countless other services — both big and small — from Amazon (AMZN), CBS and others.

But this is Apple we're talking about after all, with its deep pockets and vast tech expertise. So we won't count it out.

12:06 p.m. ET, March 23, 2019

Apple's got some serious star power

Apple (AAPL) is reportedly set to roll out a streaming video product on Monday, and with it will likely come a big lineup of shows. The tech giant has been tight-lipped about its original series, but some information has leaked out about what shows could be a part of the product, and the big names behind them.

Here's some of the reported original programming that Apple could have either at launch or down the line:

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon's drama about morning TV

  • Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon will star in and executive produce Apple's new series about the wild world of morning television. The series has been described as "an inside look at the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning." Steve Carell will also be a part of the cast. CNN's Brian Stelter is a consultant on the project, which draws from his book "Top of the Morning."

"Amazing Stories" from Steven Spielberg

  • There really no bigger name in the entertainment world than Steven Spielberg. Spielberg will reportedly reboot the science fiction anthology series, "Amazing Stories." He will produce it via his production company, Amblin, alongside NBCUniversal TV. The original "Amazing Stories" ran on NBC from 1985 to 1987.

"Little America" from Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon

  • Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, the duo that wrote the acclaimed romantic comedy, "The Big Sick" in 2017, have reportedly signed up for an anthology series called "Little America." It will tell the tales of immigrants who make their way to, and live in, America.

Oprah, J.J., Sesame Workshop and more

3:33 p.m. ET, March 22, 2019

Apple's new streaming service could attract 100 million subscribers within 5 years

Apple (AAPL) is expected to unmask its entry into the streaming entertainment world next week. Silicon Valley and Hollywood are ready.

In a new note, Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush, said it's a "pivotal step for Cupertino" and "will only be the drumroll to a more transformative content acquisition during the course of 2019 for Apple."

Ives added:

We believe Monday's announcement is just the tip of the iceberg for Cook's broader streaming content strategy to take hold and in our opinion adds a significant potential catalyst to the Apple services growth story for years to come."

Ives projects that the new service could add 100 million subscribers in the next five years and generate upward of $10 billion in annual revenue. That would add at least $15 per share from its current price of $188 per share, Ives said.