iTunes Chief Eddy Cue: ‘We’re All In’ on Original Content

Apple iTunes music chief Eddy Cue is at the SXSW conference today, where he sat down for an interview with CNN's Dylan Byers to discuss media, entertainment, and why curation matters.

The major announcement of the event was Apple's pending acquisition of magazine subscription service Texture, which will be integrated into Apple News, but Cue also shared some insight into Apple's original content plans, and much of what he said has been shared on Twitter.

Image via @JohanTrouve

According to Cue, Apple News is a unique service because it isn't focused on advertising, so it's not solely providing the news you want to read - it's also sharing news "you should be reading." Cue says Apple can do that because advertising isn't the focus. "We're not trying to get you to read so we can serve you more ads," he said. "We want to give you a bit of serendipity to see all of what's out there," he added.

On the topic of Apple's content plans, Cue said the company is "all in." "We're completely all in," he said. Apple isn't going to buy a company like Netflix or Disney, though, because the focus is not quantity, it's quality. "You need to have a great story," he said, while also teasing technology that will be a "surprise" to users.

Apple searched for the right people to run an original content team for two years before finding former Sony executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. Cue says Apple was after someone who "really knew the business but was also willing to think about it differently." Since hiring Van Amburg and Erlicht last year, Apple has inked deals for more than 10 TV shows, many with high-profile actors, producers, and directors.

"We're making big investments," said Cue. "Money isn't an issue." Apple's original content team has grown to about 40 people over the course of the last year.

When asked about sports, Cue said that Apple wants to "augment the experience" rather than own sports content, doing things like sending out notifications when a game stats to enhance the viewing experience. "We think there's a huge opportunity," he said, referring to making sports watching a more interactive experience.

Cue also shared new details on Apple Music. The subscription service has grown to 38 million subscribers, with more than 8 million people using the trial service.

Cue commented on the HomePod, which went on sale in February. He said Apple is happy with the initial sales of the device, which is the "best musicologist there is." Cue said Apple is "very proud" of the device.

Echoing statements Apple CEO Tim Cook has made several times over the course of the past year, Cue said Apple is "very, very optimistic" that AR is going to be huge. It's going to be a mainstream product that everyone uses every day.

He declined to give specifics on the topic of AR hardware outside of the iPhone, though, citing a desire to continue working at Apple. "I've worked for Apple for almost 30 years and hope to work for Apple for another 20 years, so I'm not going to answer questions on future products," he said.

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iTunes Chief Eddy Cue Says Apple Will Share Details on its TV Plans in ‘a Little Bit of Time’

Apple iTunes chief Eddy Cue today spoke at Variety's 2018 Pollstar Live event in Los Angeles, California, where he discussed Apple Music and the Music Business with Variety Executive Music Editor Shirley Halperin.

Cue's talk wasn't streamed live for viewers at home to watch, but several attendees shared Cue's major talking points on Twitter.

Image via Stacey Cohen White

Unsurprisingly, some of the discussion focused on the HomePod, which is officially launching this Friday. According to Cue, the HomePod will use its built-in A8 chip and AI algorithms to automatically adjust the bass, treble, and other settings on a song-by-song basis, so there won't be a need for users to fuss with settings.

In fact, Apple is confident enough in the HomePod's ability to make these adjustments that there are no built-in options to allow users to manually adjust sound.

Cue didn't want to share information about Apple's upcoming original programming plans, despite the fact that the company has inked deals for eight TV shows so far. He did, however, say that we may hear "a lot more" about Apple's plans in "a little bit of time," suggesting Apple will share details on its television goals later this year.

Details are light on the other points that Cue covered in his talk, but should more information surface on what he had to say, we'll update this post.

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Apple Senior VP Eddy Cue Announced as Featured Speaker for SXSW 2018

Apple's senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue has been announced as a Featured Speaker for 2018's South By Southwest Conference event. SXSW takes place from March 9-18 in Austin, Texas, and Cue will lead a talk focused on startup companies and the tech sector, accompanied by CNN senior reporter Dylan Byers.

Other speakers include Steve Jobs biography writer Walter Isaacson, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson, Waymo CEO John Krafcik, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and more.

During last year's SXSW conference, Apple Music Beats 1 radio host Zane Lowe appeared as a speaker.
“The speakers announced today feature a diverse group of leaders and innovators that make SXSW the foremost destination for creative people,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer. "As SXSW celebrates the 25th year of Interactive and Film, the cross-industry talent announced today reflects the ongoing convergence of the modern world, the trends we see throughout our programming, and the paramount reason for our now unified conference experience."
The full schedule of events for this year's SXSW can be found online. Besides keynote speakers discussing a variety of topics, the Austin-based festival includes film screenings, concerts, gaming events, a comedy festival, and more.

At Apple, Cue oversees the iTunes Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple Maps, iCloud, and the iWork and iLife suites of apps. He had previously headed Siri development, but work on Apple's AI assistant shifted to software engineering chief Craig Federighi sometime last year. The move was confirmed by Apple in September.

Tags: Eddy Cue, SXSW

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iTunes Chief Eddy Cue to Participate in Q&A Session at Pollstar Live! 2018 Conference

Apple iTunes Chief Eddy Cue will attend the Pollstar Live! 2018 Conference where he will sit down for a QA session with Variety Executive Music Editor Shirley Halperin, Variety reported today.

Cue's official title is vice president of Internet Software and Services, and he oversees both iTunes and Apple Music along with Apple Pay, Maps, iCloud services, Apple's video efforts, and more.
"Eddy Cue and his team at Apple have changed the way we listen to music, played a transformative role in artist discovery, and ignited the passion of music fans," said Ray Waddell, president, Media & Conferences, for Oak View Group, producers of Pollstar Live! "We are thrilled to have him address the attendees at Pollstar Live! and can't wait to hear what he has to say."
Other speakers at Pollstar Live! 2018 include William J. Bratton, Troy Carter, Coolio, Mark Cuban, Marc Geiger, Michael Rapino, Alan Krueger, James E. Meyer, Roger Lynch, and more.

The Q&A session, entitled Apple and the Music Business, will take place on the morning of February 7, 2018 at the InterContinental hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Pollstar Live! is a three day event that starts on February 6.

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Eddy Cue Says He ‘Disagrees Vehemently’ With Those Who Believe Apple’s Pace of Innovation Has Slowed

Just over a decade after the iPhone launched, and six years after Steve Jobs passed, some critics believe that Apple's pace of innovation has slowed. Unsurprisingly, Apple's services chief Eddy Cue doesn't share that opinion.

"I disagree vehemently with that and I think we've been incredibly innovative," said Cue, in a recent interview with Indian publication Livemint.

Cue pointed out that both the iPad and Apple Watch launched after the iPhone, while noting that revolutionary products take time. He also believes that Apple's work on Mac, macOS, and iOS has led the market.
Apple historically has a track record of coming out with industry-defining products, whether it's the Mac or iPhone or iPod. But over the past decade, there's a been perception that the pace of innovation and the pace at which Apple has come out with game-changing, breakthrough products has slowed somewhat. What do you have to say about that?

No way! First of all, the iPhone is 10 years old. That is the last decade. The iPad came after that and the Watch came after that. So, I disagree vehemently with that and I think we’ve been incredibly innovative. That doesn’t even take into account the work that has been done on the Mac, iOS and MacOS, from that standpoint where I think we’ve led the market. When you think of the products that we’ve built over time, you own a lot of them. And you just assume that every year was a new product. But it wasn’t. You can’t do revolutionary new products, every two months or six months or whatever. They take time.
The rest of the interview was primarily focused on Apple's roadmap for India, which Cue described as a "very long-term opportunity."

Cue said Apple is focused on three areas in India, including the App Store, Apple Maps, and a bundle of other services such as iCloud and Apple Music. Of note, he said Apple is "working on" bringing Apple Pay to India.
The digital payments business is widely being seen as the biggest battleground in India now and in the near future. What are Apple's plans on that front?

Our head of Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey, is here with me. And Apple Pay is something that we definitely want in India. The challenge with payment mechanisms is that there isn't really a lot of global scale. You deal with individual markets at a time … but India is one of those markets where we hope to bring Apple Pay to.
Cue said Apple doesn't have an exact launch date to announce for Apple Pay in India at this point since it's not "a 100 percent" yet.

In the full-length interview, Cue also reflects upon the leadership styles of past and present Apple CEOs Tim Cook and Steve Jobs, and on Apple's increasing efforts to produce original content.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

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Apple Opening Two Mac Labs in India That Will Teach Students How to Create Music Using Logic Pro X

Apple today announced it will be opening two so-called "Mac Labs" at the KM Music Conservatory's campuses in the Indian cities of Chennai and Mumbai. The labs will teach students how to create music using Logic Pro X.

Apple also said it will fund 10 full time musical scholarships at the learning institution for students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Apple's services chief Eddy Cue traveled to Mumbai this week, where he announced the news in person alongside A.R. Rahman, an Oscar-winning composer, producer, musician, and founder of the KM Music Conservatory.
"It's an honour to be in Mumbai and I am humbled to be in the presence of the talented A.R. Rahman to make this announcement together," said Cue. "Apple Music and the KM Music Conservatory share a deep love in discovering, sharing and nurturing musical talent and we're proud to be supporting such an institution that is investing in the future arts and music community."
The A.R. Rahman Foundation founded the KM Music Conservatory in 2008. The higher education institution offers a range of part-time and full-time courses in Western and Indian classical music and audio technology.

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Tim Cook Rises and Eddy Cue Drops on Vanity Fair’s 2017 New Establishment List

Vanity Fair released its annual New Establishment List this week, which it has described as the top 100 so-called "Silicon Valley hotshots, Hollywood moguls, Wall Street titans, and cultural icons," and two Apple executives made the cut.

Apple CEO Tim Cook rose to third overall, up from 11th in the year-ago list. Apple's services chief Eddy Cue, who recently ceded Siri leadership to software engineering chief Craig Federighi, dropped from 54th to 73rd.

Cook's description:
With a market cap north of $800 billion, Apple is on track to be a trillion-dollar company.

As consumers reject the new MacBook Pro and Apple arrives late to the game with HomePod, an Echo wannabe, the company is clinging to the iPhone for more than half of its revenue—an inauspicious strategy, since phone sales are predicted to decline.

Cook showed up at Trump Tower in December to kiss the ring, then went to the White House in June to try to convince Trump of the importance of coding in schools.
Cue's description:
Launching HomePod, Apple's voice-activated virtual assistant. The product, a competitor to Amazon's Echo, may be the new hit Apple so desperately needs as interest in the iPhone wanes.

Planet of the Apps, Apple's foray into original programming under Cue, "feels like something that was developed at a cocktail party," according to one review.
Laurene Powell Jobs, co-founder of educational and philanthropic organization Emerson Collective, rose from 73rd to 44th.

Powell Jobs gained a majority stake in The Atlantic in July, and she's also reportedly investing in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the owner of several Washington D.C. area sports teams. She is the widow of the late Steve Jobs.

Professional wrestler turned actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who starred in an extended Siri ad this year, broke in at 37th.

Vanity Fair's fourth annual New Establishment Summit is underway this week at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California. There, so-called "titans" of technology, media, business, entertainment, politics, and the arts discuss issues and innovations shaping the future.

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Apple Acknowledges Siri Leadership Has Officially Moved From Eddy Cue to Craig Federighi

Apple has updated its executive profiles to acknowledge that software engineering chief Craig Federighi now officially oversees development of Siri. The responsibility previously belonged to Apple's services chief Eddy Cue.

Craig Federighi is Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Craig oversees the development of iOS, macOS, and Siri. His teams are responsible for delivering the software at the heart of Apple’s innovative products, including the user interface, applications and frameworks.
Apple's leadership page is only now reflecting Federighi's role as head of Siri, but the transition has been apparent for several months, based on recent interviews and stage appearances at Apple's keynotes.

At WWDC 2016, for example, Federighi and Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller joined Daring Fireball's John Gruber to discuss how Apple was opening Siri up to third-party developers with SiriKit later that year.

At WWDC 2017, Federighi was on stage to discuss improvements to Siri in iOS 11, including more natural voice, built-in translation capabilities, and advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Cue continues to oversee the iTunes Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple Maps, iCloud, and the iWork and iLife suites of apps, and handing off Siri should allow him to focus more on Apple's push into original content.

Apple's updated leadership page also now lists profiles for recent hires Deirdre O'Brien, Vice President of People, and Isabel Ge Mahe, Vice President and Managing Director of Greater China.

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DreamWorks Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg Met With Apple About His Mobile-Focused TV Network

Former DreamWorks Animation CEO and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg is working on a new mobile-focused TV service, tentatively named New TV, and has met with Apple executives to discuss a possible investment, reports Variety and CNBC.

Katzenberg was in attendance at this year's Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, along with dozens of other tech and media moguls, including Apple CEO Tim Cook. According to Variety, he was aiming to coax one of several tech companies into a $2B investment in his new project. Katzenberg was seen meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook and Eddy Cue at the event, and CNBC says he has previously held meetings with Apple, Google, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Snapchat, and Spotify.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Sun Valley event last week. Image via Rob Latour, Shutterstock

Given the sheer number of investors Katzenberg is courting, it's not yet clear who he will partner with nor if Apple is interested, but New TV is a unique proposal. Katzenberg wants to create a short-form video series that's produced with primetime TV budgets to target 18 to 34-year-olds.
For example, imagine a drama akin to "Empire" or "Scandal" but shrunk to 10-minute episodes made for mobile consumption. Or a five-minute talk show, or a two-minute newscast -- all with high-profile talent attached.
In addition to seeking a distribution partner, Katzenberg is also pursuing potential content partners, with CBS and Disney CEO Bob Iger considering producing shows for the service. "The explosion of short-form video is obvious to all of us, but a lot of what we've seen is the production of amateurs -- user-generated content," Iger told Variety.

Katzenberg's goal is not to shrink longer-form media into a shorter format, but to create "new and different" programming that's native to mobile devices. No episode will last longer than 10 minutes, and there will be no ad breaks, with monetization coming via title sponsorships and brand integrations.

New TV will be shaped by whichever partner joins the project, says Katzenberg. It could work as a subscription service offered by a single video provider for a monthly fee, or it could be entirely free and integrated into an existing brand.

Apple has been aggressively pursuing original content in recent months, but in a more traditional format with standard episode lengths. Planet of the Apps, the company's first original show, launched in June, and its second show, Carpool Karaoke: The Series is set to be released on August 8.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook and iTunes Chief Eddy Cue Attend Sun Valley Media Retreat

Apple CEO Tim Cook and iTunes Chief Eddy Cue this week attended the Allen & Co. Sun Valley media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, as they have done for the last several years.

Many well known tech and media moguls attend the Sun Valley event, which is essentially a retreat and is invitation only, but meetings and discussions at the conference are kept under wraps so it's unlikely we'll hear details on anything that goes on. In years past, Cook and Cue have kept a low profile during the week long event.

Described as a "summer camp for billionaires," the conference includes activities like rafting, cycling, and golf, and because it brings so many major media executives together in one place, it's been credited as the catalyst for major deals like the AOL and Time Warner merger, Walt Disney's acquisition of ABC, Google's purchase of YouTube, and Jeff Bezos' acquisition of The Washington Post.

Apple has been taking a more direct approach to media in recent months with its ever-growing interest in original content, so it's no surprise to see Cook and Cue at the event once again.

Other notable 2017 attendees include Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Jared and Ivanka Trump, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, Twitter COO Anthony Noto, 21st Century Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch, CBS Chairman Les Moonves, and Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg.

Image via Rob Latour, Shutterstock

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