Apple and Samsung Electronics have announced a deal that only recently would have seemed unthinkable: the iPhone maker will begin offering iTunes movies and TV shows on its arch rival’s TV sets.
The move comes ahead of a likely 2019 introduction of Apple’s own streaming video service – a rival to Netflix, HBO, Hulu and Amazon Prime, along with new network-backed services such as CBS All Access and Disney’s imminent streaming channel.
Many Internet-based video services already offer apps for both the Apple TV set-top box and smart televisions from the likes of Samsung and LG, however Apple’s decision will allow its customers to watch iTunes movies and TV shows without buying an Apple TV unit.
Apple's iTunes will be available on the 2019 release of Samsung smart TVs beginning in the second quarter of this year, with a software update bringing the same functionality to 2018 models.
Technology analyst and longtime Apple watcher Gene Munster says the deal signals that Apple now has no imminent plans to release its own range of TV sets – a long-held rumour for the tech titan – and demonstrates the company’s shift two becoming a tech- and media-services company as sales of products like the iPhone continue to wane.
It’s “further evidence that Apple is willing to change its hardware-first approach and work with third parties to boost services revenue,” Munster said. This will
The deal also includes support for AirPlay, which means iPhone users will be able to stream video content from their phones to Samsung TVs. LG Electronics said its latest sets will also support AirPlay, creating a larger base of products where users can stream Apple videos, although they won’t include Samsung’s iTunes integration.
Apple and Samsung were at war for years over smartphone patents, with Apple accusing its rival of copying the iPhone’s design. After multiple trials and Apple being awarded millions of dollars, the two companies eventually settled in June 2018, ending litigation.
But beyond lawsuits and hardware competition, the companies have still long shared a close partnership, with Apple relying on Samsung for components such as screens in the latest high-end iPhones.
In recent years Apple has taken steps to wean itself off Samsung by developing its own future screen technology and device processors.
The addition of iTunes on Samsung TVs comes just weeks after Apple opened up Apple Music to the Amazon’s voice-controlled Echo platform, as Apple seek to rapidly grow user numbers to better compete with Spotify.