Apple today sent out invitations for a March 25 event with an interesting title: “It’s show time.” Details of the event were widely leaked last month, suggesting a heavy focus on new subscription services for news and videos, with celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and movie stars likely to be in attendance.
While first-quarter events have become somewhat predictable for Apple, they’ve become wildcards in themes and location. Last year’s March event was held at a Chicago school, spotlighting the education marketing focus of the sixth-generation iPad, while a 2016 Cupertino event focused on the iPad Pro and iPhone SE, and a 2015 Cupertino event was all about the Apple Watch and MacBook.
This year’s event could be exclusively about two new Apple services. Last year, Apple acquired an all-you-can-read magazine subscription service called Texture, which it’s expected to integrate into Apple News as a fee-based extension of the app’s current content — a plan that’s met with some controversy. The company has also been building a paid subscription video service that will reportedly compete with Netflix and Hulu by offering a combination of original content and unlocked on-demand libraries from multiple TV stations. A game subscription service has also been under consideration.
It would be unusual for Apple to completely skip new hardware announcements at the event. Clearly related to the video service, Apple recently partnered with TV makers to add iTunes video support to popular 2018 and 2019 television sets, and could use the event to show off the third-party iTunes app on stage, perhaps promising broader (Android device) support for its videos. Unsubstantiated rumors have suggested the company was working on an inexpensive Apple TV dongle as an alternative.
Hardware related to the news subscription service might debut, as well. Multiple new iPads — believed to include a seventh-generation iPad, fifth-generation iPad mini, and potentially a larger third model — have recently received regulatory approvals, while a seventh-generation iPod touch has also been spotted in beta versions of iOS.
Less likely but overdue: an update on AirPower, the multi-device wireless charging pad announced in 2017 for a 2018 release, which it conspicuously missed, and a second-generation version of AirPods, with or without a previously promised wireless charging case.
The event is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Pacific and will take place at Apple’s Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino. Apple plans to offer a live video stream of the event at that time. We’ll bring you coverage of announcements as they happen.