Planet of the Apps—Apple’s first original TV program—debuted on Tuesday and the first episode can be viewed for free through iTunes or the official website. Hosted by Zane Lowe, app creators pitch their ideas Shark Tank-style to a panel of four entrepreneur judges—Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Will.i.am and Gary Vaynerchuk. To promote the show, Apple is focusing on the story behind the story and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Over the course of the 50-minute show, contestants on Planet of the Apps explain their concepts and vie for the attention and financial backing they need. If chosen, these developers will be mentored on how to strengthen their app for a chance at real funding. So Apple picked judges who understand the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, if not app development itself.
First and foremost, Apple is marketing its show’s credibility through its casting. They may not be app developers, but they know a thing or two about what makes a good idea, and how to turn that idea into a reality.
Jessica Alba co-founded eco-friendly retailer The Honest Company while Gwyneth Paltrow is a writer, food critic and founder of lifestyle brand Goop (derived from her initials). Will.i.am is a seven-time Grammy-award-winning entertainer, TV producer and founding shareholder of Beats Electronics. Gary Vaynerchuk is a serial entrepreneur, adviser and angel investor. Even the host Zane Lowe is a Grammy-nominated entertainer and TV presenter.
The official Planet of the Apps social media accounts have been posting spotlights for each of the judges and Lowe that highlight what strengths they bring to the table. On Apple Music, viewers can watch a series of featurettes that talk about each of their views on the subject of entrepreneurship.
Feeding An Ecosystem
Planet of the Apps is Apple’s first step into branded content—helping others by helping itself. The ideas that gain the most traction have a shot at winning $10 million in funding and a top spot on the app store. Excited app developers mean more apps, and more apps mean more shared revenue for Apple.
“I was very interested in the idea that the whole thing could happen end-to-end under the Apple umbrella—that it could be sort of contained within their ecosystem, [and] that there was a real privacy element to it and control,” Paltrow told Entertainment Weekly, “from a supply chain kind of all the way from the beginning to the end, and that there weren’t going to be commercials. So, it was really a way to celebrate content, creativity, entrepreneurship, and I felt there was a lot of kinship between the DNA of the show—which was to find someone great and amplify what they’re doing—to the DNA of Goop.”
Currently, Apple takes a 70/30 split with app developers (70 percent to developers), but recently offered to take lower cuts if apps are sold as a service. Apple will now take a smaller cut of money from app developers if customers stick with their subscriptions for longer than a year, Phil Schiller told The Verge in a pre-WWDC 2016 interview.
Apple CEO Tim Cook told investors in January that he hopes to double Apple’s services revenue over the next four years, helped in part by selling and distributing content. He highlighted that the developer community has earned a total of $60 billion, as the company has provided new ways for developers to earn revenue.