Report: Apple to take a bite out of Netflix and Amazon by making its content free for device owners

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Oct 10, 2018, 9:40 PM EDT

In a move that appears to take a page from Amazon’s Prime playbook and one-up it by removing price as an entry barrier, Apple reportedly plans to offer completely free of charge at least some of the content it’s developing for its long-awaited streaming service — so long, that is, as you’re a part of Apple's device ecosystem.

Citing unnamed inside sources, CNBC reports that Apple plans to feature its launch-day streaming content at no cost for Apple device owners, who would access the platform via a dedicated app icon in much the same fashion as they currently access iTunes or the App Store. 

The ubiquity of that feature, which would be available on every device Apple sells, may also inform the Cupertino company’s decision to forego edgier, R-rated content in favor of material considered appropriate for anyone who owns an Apple device. 

In addition to the free original content, the platform also will reportedly provide an a la carte, subscription-level point of entry to a slew of “channels” that, on the surface, looks much like Amazon’s subscription add-on feature for Prime Video members who want to pay extra for HBOCBS All Access, and Starz. The difference, of course, is that the basic lineup of original Apple programming would be free from the start, as opposed to the $119 annual charge that nets Amazon customers basic access to Prime Video.

Long term, Apple’s strategy reportedly is to start charging for access to at least some of its original content, when the time is right. The idea, according to CNBC, is to parlay the success of its in-house tentpole series, post-launch, into an enticement for would-be subscribers for a “Netflix-like” service.

When it does appear, the platform should have a healthy helping of sci-fi and fantasy content, including alt-history astronaut drama For All Mankind, an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, an unnamed psychological thriller series from M. Night Shyamalan, and the futuristic epic See, starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard.

In total, Apple already has a reported two dozen projects in the works for the launch of its streaming service, which still doesn’t have a release date or a name.