Apple Inc has revealed a triple-camera iPhone, matching a feature rivals already have, and rolled out a streaming TV service priced to undercut Disney and Netflix.
The announcements came at the company's biggest marketing event, where it unveils its top products for the year ahead.
The long-awaited Apple TV+ streaming television service, which follows several false starts, will be available in over 100 countries, starting in November.
Buyers of an iPhone, iPad or Mac will get a free year of streaming television service, opening the service potentially to hundreds of millions of viewers. That catapults the new service into a rarified group of companies.
There was no bundle with Apple Music or other services as some analysts had expected.
Apple revealed that its new iPhone 11 will come with two back cameras, including an ultra wide-angle lens and the next generation of microchips, the A13. Prices start at $699, down from last year's new iPhone that started at $749.
The more expensive iPhone 11 Pro will have three cameras on the back - wide angle, telephoto and ultra-wide. It can create videos with all three back cameras and the front camera at the same time and starts at $999. The iPhone 11 Pro Max with a bigger screen starts at $1,099. The new phones are available to order Friday and will start shipping Sept. 20.
Rivals including Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS> already sell phones with three cameras on the back.
With only incremental updates to its phones, Apple is in a "holding pattern" until it rolls out 5G phones with faster mobile data speeds next year, analysts said.
IPhone sales have declined year-over-year for the past two fiscal quarters and investors are focused on the growth potential for services.
Hal Eddins, chief economist for Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, said he was "underwhelmed" by Apple's announcements.
Apple's lower priced iPhones "aren't exciting on the surface, but the low streaming price may suck in some new subscribers." He said lower prices for the older Apple Watch models could boost Apple's total user base by locking in users who buy it.
Apple shares gained 0.8 percent.
With streaming content, Apple is entering a crowded field dominated by Netflix Inc.
Walt Disney Co will launch on Nov. 12 a $6.99-per-month service that will contain that firm's iconic children's content. Apple is also trying to win out over HBO Max with its hit shows like "Game of Thrones," "Friends" and "The Sopranos."
Apple's challenge is to persuade consumers that its family of devices, from its set-top box to phones, are the best one-stop place to watch shows.
“The roll out of new subscription-based services by Apple paves the way for the introduction of new business models akin to the all-you-can-eat bundles like Amazon Prime," said Paolo Pescatore, an analyst with PP Foresight. "In the future we might even see users pay for a service bundle and receive a new iPhone every year.”
Apple announced its video game service, Apple Arcade, will be a tab in the App Store and available starting Sept. 19 and cost $4.99 a month, with a one-month free trial.
Apple also unveiled updates to the Apple Watch and iPad.
The Apple Watch Series 5 will have an always-on display, an 18-hour battery life and international emergency calling in over 150 countries. Prices start at $399 or $499 with cellular service and will be available to order Tuesday and in stores Sept. 20. The Series 3 Apple Watch will start at $199.
Apple said the seventh generation of the iPad will start at $329 and be available to order starting Tuesday and in stores on Sept. 30.
"I believe we are in an incremental holding pattern until 5G. Customers with iPhone X and beyond likely won't have a reason to upgrade," said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy.
Apple makes much of its profits on selling memory upgrades to devices with larger storage capacity, and Moorhead said falling memory chip prices could help Apple absorb the cost of tariffs on Chinese-made goods, which are expected to hit mobile phones starting Dec. 15.
"Thankfully, storage and memory prices have declined so instead of taking more profit, I see Apple eating the cost and not raising prices," Moorhead said. "I can also see Apple leaning heavily on its supply chain to eat some of the cost."
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Noel Randewich; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Nick Zieminski)
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.