There’s nothing original about Apple’s first foray into original TV

Published February 14, 2017 by lagmen
Apple Planet of the Apps

Hip hop artist and entrepreneur will.i.am has something important to tell you in the trailer for Apple’s upcoming reality TV series, Planet of the Apps: “Developers!” he proclaims. “They’re the rock stars of right now.”

That may be, but do we really need to watch a television show about them? The answer, Apple has decided, is yes. We’ve known about Apple’s original series about apps for a while, but this is the first we’ve seen of it. Apple content boss Eddy Cue and Ben Silverman, the show’s executive producer, debuted the clip at Recode’s Code media conference yesterday.

If the premise sounds familiar, that’s because it’s an unabashed cross between the US primetime competition shows Shark Tank and The Voice. First, developers pitch their app ideas to a panel of four judges: will.i.am (who is also a judge on the British version of The Voice); actresses-turned-entrepreneurs Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow; and Vaynermedia founder Gary Vaynerchuk.

“Four of the world’s most culturally influential entrepreneurs,” the voiceover intones.

The contestants have 60 seconds to pitch their apps while descending an escalator. (Yes, really.) If they’re lucky, one of the judges will agree to partner with them. If they’re super lucky, multiple judges will want to partner with them and they’ll get to pick which one they move forward with.

Once they pick an advisor, the contestants consult with “tech luminaries” from companies such as Yelp, Uber, and Musical.ly (who say things like “make pivots”). The final pitch is to representatives from the venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners (who ask questions like, “What’s your burn rate right now?”). If LightSpeed agrees to fund the app, it will be featured on Apple’s app store.

In addition to talk of pivots and burn rates, the trailer for Planet of the Apps conveys its tech insider bona fides with lines like:

  • “We’re the eBay for the Snapchat generation.”
  • “My brand is known all over the Earth.” (will.i.am’s, that is.)
  • “We’re going to revolutionize social media.”
  • “As consumers of news, we have a real trust issue.”
  • “This is a branding game. I’m the branding person for you.”
  • “This isn’t the pitch anymore. This is real life.”

“The future of TV,” CEO Tim Cook said last year, “is apps.” So naturally, Planet of the Apps will have its own dedicated app.

The show will be available to Apple Music’s 20 million subscribers sometime this spring. Along with Carpool Karaoke, Planet of the Apps is part of a growing stockpile of video content produced by Apple to help sell memberships to its streaming music service. Cue has said that Apple’s interest in TV—for now, at least—is only to enhance and promote the company’s existing platforms.

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