Apps, Gwyneth Paltrow and $10m: what’s up with Apple’s new TV show?

The reaction to Planet of the Apps, in which app developers compete for investment under the guidance of Paltrow and Will.i.am, has been lukewarm

When you hear the name Gwyneth Paltrow, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps its her Oscar-winning acting, her neurotic eating habits as documented on her lifestyle blog Goop, or her praise for steam-cleaning ones vagina (not recommended by doctors). You might also think of her appearance in Glee, her conscious uncoupling from Coldplay singer Chris Martin or her pint-sized fitness guru Tracy Anderson.

What probably wont immediately come to mind is app development. So it comes as quite the surprise that shes been selected as a mentor on Apples new reality TV show about apps and their creators, called Planet of the Apps.

Paltrow, along with popstar-turned-tech-entrepreneur Will.i.am and investor and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk will advise 100 contestants building applications for Apples operating systems in an unscripted television series.

The reaction to the concept, which wont screen until 2017, has been lukewarm at best.

This is a very old-fashioned media-centric idea. Do you think I will take a recommendation from Will.i.am or Gwyneth Paltrow about anything? Probably not, said Om Malik, partner at San Francisco-based investment firm True Ventures.

We live in a world where consumers decide for themselves whats good and whats not. Social media allows us to pick up on trends. I just feel this is a distraction for Apple.

Joseph Cieplinski, an app developer and consultant, described the concept as really disappointing.

He feels that the reality TV show format typically favours drama and intrigue over real business sustainability. It will give a really bad impression of the development process and what its like to build apps, he said.

Does it have any redeeming qualities? Not that I can tell. Although Im willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

It might sound like a lame duck, but then on paper so did The Great British Bake Off, a competition-based reality show about baking bread, cakes, cookies and other carb-heavy treats. The BBC production was a surprise hit and the format has since been sold to at least 20 countries worldwide.

Its not all doom and gloom. Will.i.am, who is also an executive producer on the show, has some tech chops. He was a founding investor in Beats before it was acquired by Apple and is known as a shrewd marketer, despite the string of tech flops hes launched over the last few years (anyone for a $475 smartphone case?).

The producers behind it are responsible for The Office and Ugly Betty as well as popular reality formats like The Biggest Loser. They have partnered with well-loved tech discovery platform Product Hunt to find interesting app developers. The winners will get the much-coveted featured placement in the App Store at the end of the show and the chance to meet top-tier VCs investing up to $10m over the course of the season.

Planet of the Apps is indicative of Apple dipping its toes into original programming, something it has traditionally shied away from.

It comes on the heels of the technology giant developing video formats for distribution through its Apple Music streaming service, including a documentary series with Vice, exclusive interviews with artists and plans for a six-episode series with hip-hop artist and Apple executive Dr Dre. Apple is also partnering with CBS Television Studios to produce 16 half-hour episodes of Carpool Karaoke, a format popularized as a segment on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

So whats Apple trying to achieve?

The company has traditionally abstained from creating its own content as its been able to make so much money by selling hardware and then distributing content created by others using iTunes and the App Store. However, as people have started to move from downloading to streaming content, a TV or video service to complement the existing music service makes sense.

However, after witnessing iTunes massive disruption of the music industry, the incumbent players havent made it easy for the Cupertino-headquartered company. Apple spent years trying to build a skinny bundle of TV channels and on-demand content that it could sell directly to consumers for a monthly subscription of around $30 using its own interface. However, the companys aggressive negotiation tactics meant it struggled to cut deals with the gatekeepers of the content, including Hollywood, cable companies and popular television franchises like Top Gear. This has forced Apple to look at making its own programming, starting with subject matter its already familiar with.

The first shows may be niche but easy for them to work with, said analyst Horace Dediu. They may not be popular but theyll learn from it. They are not going to make the next Game of Thrones right out of the gate.

In the long term, Apple is competing for peoples attention and loyalty across all of its devices, whether thats the smartphone, desktop, laptop, television and even car.

Making shows available on iPhones, when more viewing is going mobile, is a smart strategy for Apple, added McQuivey. Its making sure they are stimulating the interest in the iPhone itself.

Apple insists its not in the business of creating TV shows nor is it trying to compete with other major streaming services or cable companies. Were not trying to compete with Netflix or compete with Comcast, Eddy Cue, who oversees services including iTunes and Apple Music, told <a href=”http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/eddy-cue-apples-tv-plans-910093″ data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>Hollywood Reporter.

However, Cybart doesnt buy it. Their efforts are probably a lot further along than it seems.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/12/gwyneth-paltrow-tv-show-review-planet-of-apps-apple

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