apple event tim cook

This handout released and taken on April 20, 2021 by Apple inc. shows Apple CEO Tim Cook holding a new purple iPhone 12 during a special event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California. Photo: AFP/Apple Inc

Apple Event: Podcast subscriptions announced to rival Spotify

Watch out, Spotify.

apple event tim cook

This handout released and taken on April 20, 2021 by Apple inc. shows Apple CEO Tim Cook holding a new purple iPhone 12 during a special event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California. Photo: AFP/Apple Inc

Apple on Tuesday 20 April 2021 announced a new subscription option for its pioneering podcasting service, evidently moving to fend off fast-growing rival Spotify.

A new lineup of powered-up iPads with 5G connectivity was also announced and everyone is buzzing about the new purple iPhone – detailed recapt of the event to follow.

In the meantime, here’s what to expect from Apple’s new podcast subscriptions.

Apple Event: New podcast subscriptions

Apple Podcast platform overhaul

Beginning in May, podcast fans around the world will be able to sign up for subscriptions for perks such as ad-free listening or exclusive content from creators, the tech giant said during a streamed media event Tuesday.

The subscription feature comes with an overhaul of the Apple Podcast platform that lays credit to kicking off the trend with its launch 15 years ago. Apple chief Tim Cook said during a presentation:

“Now, you can help your favourite podcasters build their business and fuel their creativity. We are making the biggest change to Apple podcasts since its debut”.

Listing to podcasts will continue to be free, but a subscription option makes Apple’s service more attractive to creators by providing a way to make money aside from ads or tips.

Rivalling Spotify

Spotify earlier this year revealed plans for podcast subscriptions, increasing the pressure on Apple to keep personalities.

Industry tracker eMarketer last month said that Spotify has been growing quickly and that its podcasting service is on track to have more listeners in the United States than Apple Podcasts this year.

“By putting podcasts and music in one place, Spotify quickly became the convenient one-stop-shop for everything digital audio,”  eMarketer forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence Peter Vahle said in a post.

“Apple was the de facto destination for podcasts for a long time, but in recent years, it has not kept up with Spotify’s pace of investment and innovation in podcast content and technology.”

New iPads after pandemic-fueled surge

New iMacs and iPads

The California tech giant also introduced a redesigned suite of iMac computers with a sleeker look and more power thanks to its own M1 chips.

The M1 chip is also powering the new lineup of iPad Pro tablets unveiled at an event streamed from Apple’s headquarters, at which the company announced a series of upgrades and new services.

“The revolutionary M1 chip has been a breakthrough for the Mac, and we’re incredibly excited to bring it to iPad Pro,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple senior vice president.

Joswiak said the chip will enable a “huge jump in performance […] all in a device users can hold in one hand.”

Taking the market by storm

The new iPad models highlighted the event after the tablet computers came into greater prominence over the past year.

Worldwide tablet sales reversed a declining trend and rose 13.6% for the year, according to research firm IDC, with Apple capturing one-third of the market.

The new Pro tablets have improved displays, better connections to external accessories and cellular models will include 5G connections, Apple said. 

The devices will start at $799 in the United States for the 11-inch model and $1,099 for a 12.9-inch device.

Improved for WFH culture

Amid a surge in working from home, “Apple has seen a major renaissance of growth from its iPad… showing 40% year-over-year growth the last few quarters as more employees/students went through an iPad refresh,” said Daniel Ives at Wedbush Securities.

“We estimate less than half of iPad users globally have gone through a refresh the last year with some clear pent-up demand that these new iPads will unleash in the next few quarters.”

The new all-in-one iMacs will offer a thinner design, and incorporate the fingerprint ID and high-resolution cameras seen in Apple mobile devices.

Apple unveiled its “Air Tag” devices which can be attached to items to help people find them and announced a new purple colour for its iPhone 12 lineup.

The company also said it would begin offering podcast subscriptions, ramping up competition with rival Spotify.