Apple Sets Aside ‘$1 Billion War Chest’ for Hollywood Programming

Apple has earmarked $1 billion to acquire and produce original television content over the next year to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The plans could see Apple procure and produce as many as 10 television shows, according to people familiar with the matter, thanks to a budget figure that is about half of what Time Warner’s HBO spent on content last year and around the same amount as Amazon spent in 2013, after it announced its own move into original programming.



The budget will reportedly be controlled by Hollywood veterans Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who were hired by Apple in June from Sony to oversee content acquisition and video strategy. Apple also recently hired former WGN America President Matt Cherniss to oversee development of the company’s worldwide video unit. Cherniss previously worked with Erlicht and Van Amburg to bring the Sony shows “Underground” and “Outsiders” to WGN.

Mr. Van Amburg and Mr. Erlicht have begun meeting with Hollywood agents and holding discussions about shows Apple could acquire, the people familiar said. Mr. Matt Cherniss has movie experience, having worked as a production executive at Warner Bros.

WSJ notes that not only will Apple have a fight on its hands going up against rivals already heavily invested in original content, but it will also have to avoid jeopardizing its 15 percent cut of subscriptions from its App Store for services like Netflix and HBO GO.

As for the cost of programming, this can vary widely, from more than $2 million an episode for a comedy to more than $5 million for a drama, while high-end shows such as “Game of Thrones” can cost over $10 million per episode to produce.

For its video service to gain traction, Apple needs at least one hit, according to the people familiar with the plan who spoke to the newspaper. The company’s initial video efforts include “Planet of the Apps“, which was launched in June on Apple Music, and “Carpool Karaoke,” which was launched last week. Apple has not revealed ratings for the shows but both have been criticized by reviewers.

Apple is hoping its efforts in original programming will bolster the appeal of iTunes movie rentals and other offerings through the store. Last year, iTunes generated an estimated $4.1 billion in revenue, but its share of the movie rental-and-sales market has declined to less than 35 percent from 50 percent in 2012, according to the report.
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Apple Adds to Video Team With Hire of Former WGN America Head

Former president and general manager of WGN America and Tribune Studios Matt Cherniss has jointed Apple to help oversee the development of the company’s worldwide video unit, reports Variety.

Cherniss will serve under Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two former Sony executives who joined Apple earlier this year to lead Apple’s video programming efforts on a worldwide scale. Erlicht and Amburg report to senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue.



Back in June, Cherniss stepped down from his role as president at WGN America and Tribune Studios after Tribune was acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Cherniss led WGN’s own push into original content and away from re-runs, overseeing the launch of shows like “Salem,” “Outsiders,” “Underground,” and “Manhattan,” so he’s well-positioned to help Apple make a deeper dive into original programming.

With the addition of Cherniss, Apple has a solid team, as its former two hires, Erlicht and Amburg, helped produce shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” and “The Crown.”

Over the course of the last several months, Apple has been experimenting with original content as a way to promote its Apple Music service. The company has launched two shows so far, including “Planet of the Apps,” a series about app developers pitching ideas to investors, and “Carpool Karaoke,” a music-based show developed from the Carpool Karaoke segment on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.”

Apple is said to have bigger ambitions when it comes to original content, though, with rumors suggesting the company is pursuing deals with “triple-A-list” talent to create a roster of shows on par with Netflix and Amazon.
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Facebook adds a link to Trending News in the app’s main menu

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Apple Urged to Implement Feature That Sends an iPhone’s Precise Location to Responders in Emergencies

EENA, short for the European Emergency Number Association, has called on Apple to integrate a solution called Advanced Mobile Location into iOS to improve the safety of iPhone users in emergency situations.



Advanced Mobile Location recognizes when an emergency call is made and, if not already activated, activates a smartphone’s GPS or Wi-Fi to collect the caller’s precise location information. The handset then sends an automatic SMS to the emergency services with the caller’s location, before turning the GPS off again.

For months, EENA said it has tried to establish contact with Apple to work on a solution that automatically provides accurate location derived from iPhones to emergency services and rescuers, but with no result so far.

Advanced Mobile Location is allegedly up to 4,000 times more accurate than current emergency systems, which rely on cell tower location with a radius of up to several miles, or assisted GPS, which can fail indoors. EENA lists several real scenarios where AML’s location accuracy was less than 12 meters.



Last year, Google implemented a new AML-based solution called Emergency Location Service into Google Play services that automatically works on Android smartphones running its Gingerbread operating system or newer.

AML must also be supported by carriers. EENA said the service is fully operational in several European countries, including the United Kingdom, Estonia, Lithuania, Austria, Iceland, and New Zealand, on all mobile networks.

In terms of privacy, Google said it never sees or handles the precise location obtained by its Emergency Location Service feature. Instead, the location is sent from the smartphone to emergency services only when a user explicitly places an emergency call, either directly or through their mobile network.

EENA said AML has saved many lives by more accurately pinpointing a person’s position. Accordingly, several minutes of time can be saved, according to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute:

Ambulance Service measurements show that, on average, 30 seconds per call can be saved if a precise location is automatically provided, and several minutes can be saved where callers are unable to verbally describe their location due to stress, injury, language or simple unfamiliarity with an area.

EENA said it recognizes the efforts of Apple to improve the safety of its customers. It acknowledged the SOS functionality of the Apple Watch, which can automatically send the location of a caller to a specified contact. However, it believes the location should be sent to emergency services and rescuers as well.

Apple certainly cares about the safety of its customers. It doesn’t appear to have publicly provided a reason against supporting AML.

Via: The Next Web
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Apple Stops Signing iOS 10.3.2

Following the release of iOS 10.3.3 on July 19, Apple has stopped signing iOS 10.3.2, the previous version of iOS that was available to consumers.

iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners who have upgraded to iOS 10.3.3 will no longer be able to downgrade their devices to iOS 10.3.2.

Apple routinely stops signing older versions of software updates after new releases come out in order to encourage customers to keep their operating systems up to date.

iOS 10.3.3 is now the only version of iOS 10 that can be installed on iOS devices by the general public, but developers and public beta testers can download iOS 11, a future update that is being beta tested and will be released in the fall.
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