🔥What Apple One Tells Us About Apple Podcasts
By Nick Strann | @nstrann
For some time now, podcasting’s burning question has been when is Apple going to enter into the exclusives game? As competitors Spotify, SiriusXM, and now Amazon carve out their respective territories – Apple has largely maintained its role as a non-participatory platform provider. Podcasts produced by Apple News, Apple Music, and Apple Books (with Oprah’s Book Club as a partner) are indeed exclusive to the platform but nothing has been shepherded directly by the Apple Podcast team. That said, Apple Podcasts has been hiring of late – bringing in Jake Shapiro as Head of Creator Partnerships and N’Jeri Eaton to lead development of original podcasts. The too obvious conclusion here is that these hirings mean Apple is preparing to meaningfully enter the fray.
However, Apple’s unveiling of the Apple One Bundle without any mention of a Podcast product suggests otherwise. The strategic imperative of the tech giant has been made abundantly clear – solidify and grow a recurring revenue base while (and they will never say this part out loud) bolstering consumer lock-in to the Apple iOS ecosystem. Podcasting doesn’t fit that mold because podcast listeners have yet to show a meaningful willingness to pay for content. Until they do, don’t expect to see Apple make Spotify or SiriusXM style investments in podcast content.
So what do Apple’s recent moves in the podcasting space mean if we aren’t getting Apple Podcasts+? Think of these hires as a marketing play and an insurance policy. Apple will continue to create branded podcasts under the banners of its other divisions and will opportunistically develop a few originals to improve credibility with creators. If something changes and consumers suddenly are willing to pay? Great. If not, the cost of doing business will be inconsequential to the world’s most valuable company.
🔥Unity’s IPO Is Another Step Towards the Golden Age of Gaming
By Nick Strann | @nstrann
Friday’s IPO of Unity, a gaming / ad-tech company whose core product is the primary competitor of Epic’s Unreal Engine, appears to be a resounding success. Originally intending to price their offering between $34-$42 a share, Unity was able to enter the market on a groundswell of investor excitement fueled by a year of pandemic induced mobile gaming. Trading began at $52 and ended the day at $75, leaving the company with a market cap of nearly $20B – an impressive increase over it’s most recent private valuation of $6B.
Passing judgement on the success or failure of an IPO based on one day of trading would be a bit premature, but there is a bigger picture that Unity’s offering points towards. Investor sentiment in regard to the gaming industry is running high in 2020. So what comes next? That excitement will manifest as capital made readily available for a wave of gaming start-ups. Investors will double down on companies providing developer/monetization tools once reserved for larger incumbent publishers like EA, Activision/Blizzard, and Ubisoft – reducing the barrier to entry and encouraging a diverse, innovative creator set to come play. All in all, it’s a great time to be a gamer.