Apple’s services event: Rushed, nebulous and Goldman Sachs?! Frankly, I'm nonplussed

There were a lot of pieces missing amid the light of Apple's alleged new services dawn.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

A little nebulous?

Screenshot by ZDNet

It was like watching a movie, walking out of the theater and suddenly muttering: "Wait, what happened to her long-lost twin sister? We never saw her again."

It was like leaving a store, clutching something you (thought you) really wanted. Then you look at the receipt and see you've signed up for three years' insurance at $500 a year.

It was like attending an Oprah Special, looking under your seat and discovering torn wrapping paper and no free car.

After watching Apple's event, I found myself a touch bemused. It was bathed in too many elements that suggested there was less there there than assaulted the eye. And the ear.

So I have four questions that have been heckling me. And within some of these questions, more questions.

1.     Apple News Plus. Yes, it's a terrible name, but, forgive me for wondering: What do you actually get? You certainly won't get the whole of the Wall Street Journal or the LA Times. (A mere three days of the Journal archive, apparently.) So will these be pleasantly watered-down versions of newspapers and print magazines? (125 of these publications are reportedly PDF-ish.) Will it all, therefore, feel like edited highlights? And highly selective edited highlights at that. You know, like a letter from the Attorney General? And why should it replace the way you're consuming news and features now? How many magazines and newspapers will you read to make it worthwhile? I went for the free trial. It's overwhelming. Like the New York Times Sunday edition, but with 300 sections. Where does one start? I drifted to Sports Illustrated. It was pretty. Yet my attention span is so much worse online than when I have the physical thing in my hands. But I don't have time for the physical thing, because of the web. So I ended my Sports Illustrated subscription. And, oh, please get me out of here. It's quite attractive, but It's too much. And, when it comes to news, not enough.

2.     Apple TV Plus. An equally painful name, reeking of equal last-minutism. But, more importantly, how much did you say it was? Oh, you didn't. There was stuff about stars and, well, stars, but as to what all this will cost that seemed oddly absent. Which was peculiar. You're not telling me half the deals aren't done yet, are you, Apple? Oh, three-quarters of the deals? No, but really. Why no price?

3.     Apple Card. I did think this by far the cleverest part of the show, but I've been bathing in your marketing for the last hour, Apple. It says: "A new kind of credit card. Created by Apple, not a bank." Are you being a little slippery, here? At the very least, it's created with a bank. That's Goldman Sachs. And then there's Mastercard. They're kind of a bank. And a very conventional sort of lender, too. The sort that charges you a lot of percent. So how different can this all be? And, well, you're going to be making money on the interest just like they do, right? You're going into partnerships with banky sorts, so that you can become a bank. A trustworthy bank, of course. Or did I miss something? I only ask because Bailey talked about their being no late fees. Yet in the small print on the Apple site, it says: "Late or missed payments will result in additional interest accumulating toward your balance." That sounds like a typical bank, no?

4.     Apple Card again. The most glaring question of all: You expect the American people to trust Goldman Sachs? That Goldman Sachs? The "vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money" Goldman Sachs? Apple VP of Internet Services Jennifer Bailey, in her compelling presentation of the Card, explained that Goldman is a different sort of bank, one that promises never to sell your data to third parties. I fear many would agree that it's a different sort of bank – they'd think it's an even more evil bank than all the other evil banks. Of course, we can all go through conversion therapy. Many people love Rob Lowe again. But if you're a company choosing trust as one of its biggest points of difference, would you choose Goldman Sachs as your partner? Whether you're inflamed by the bank's alleged role in the Great Crash or in allegedly paying Hillary Clinton $600,000 for a speech, it's not the first brand that screams warmth and shelter.

Also: The Apple Developer Program: An insider's guide (free PDF) TechRepublic

Ultimately, then, I find myself worrying that this is all a touch rushed and nebulous.

It's not quite Air Power. (Talking of which, where is that? I mean, it was September 2017 when Apple announced it.)

I fear, though, that all these new services -- "Apple TV+. Coming This Fall!" -- may have some irksome quirks about them if and when they finally appear.

It was the best of Apple, it was the worst of Apple

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