At WWDC 2017 this week, Apple debuted its first original series produced for distribution via Apple Music, aimed at its 27 million subscribers. The 10-episode “Planet of the Apps” features Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, musician will.i.am and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Structured similarly to “The Voice” and “Top Chef,” the show’s judges counsel inventors as they develop apps focusing on shopping, exercise and other services. Apple already produced a spinoff of “Carpool Karaoke” (to launch August 8) and acquired rights to a documentary about music tycoon Clive Davis.
Bloomberg reports that, rather than attempting to compete with Amazon or Netflix, “instead, the company is starting small and staying close to what it does well, challenging Spotify and Google’s YouTube with a slate of new videos about music and technology.” With the videos, Apple — which will also add a new TV and Movies tab — “aims to get fans watching on their iPhones, which deliver almost two-thirds of the company’s sales.”
“Planet of the Apps” executive producer Ben Silverman has been encouraging Apple to “get into video for years,” and Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, “the company’s conduit to Hollywood,” has also been “pushing a new TV app on Apple TV.”
Apple screened “Planet of the Apps” at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which coincided with the show’s public debut. The Silicon Valley company also plans to promote the show “with billboards, TV commercials and wall-to-wall advertisements across iTunes, its App store and its website,” in a weeks-long campaign. One episode will appear on Apple Music each week for the first season.
For Alba and Paltrow, one of the draws of being involved in the show was to “showcase their business acumen,” since both women have started companies. Will.i.am was an early investor in Beats Electronics, purchased by Apple for $3 billion, and Vaynerchuk co-founded VaynerMedia, which “counsels companies on social media practices and marketing.”
The four judges help their mentees “develop ideas and features in preparation for a pitch to a venture capital firm, Lightspeed Venture Partners, an early backer of Snap Inc.”