22 March 2019
Samung has outlined its aim to take a bite of the content market on mobile devices. Photo: Bloomberg
Samung has outlined its aim to take a bite of the content market on mobile devices. Photo: Bloomberg

Content the next battlefield for Apple and Samsung

After flagging off a music streaming service called Milk Music in March, Samsung Electronics is now launching a video-on-demand streaming app, setting the stage for a new battle with US rival Apple Inc. in content offerings.

The South Korean giant on Wednesday unveiled ‘Project Glued’, a mobile app that will allow users to rent curated TV shows and watch the premium content on devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The service will not only stream TV shows, it will also enable users to download the content and watch it on the go, similar to what people can enjoy by buying content from Apple’s iTunes online store.

With the initiative, Samsung has made it clear that aims to lure its huge customer base into taking up a premium service and creating an additional revenue source for the company.

The new offering will be launched in the third quarter of this year, with Singapore and Philippines the initial markets before expansion to other regions.

The mobile app will let users rent an entire season of curated TV shows, but is limited to US and UK programs at launch. Customers can either stream or download each episode in HD format onto their Samsung devices.

Users will need to pay US$6.50 per season for 30 days, with the first episode free as a sample. Users can also gift entire seasons to friends, or share access up to 6 friends in 24 hour period. 

While the prospects look promising, some observers have questioned as to why Samsung did not choose Korean TV productions for the debut offering, instead of the foreign programming.

Korean TV shows are a big hit in many parts of the world, especially in the Asian region. Popular drama series such as ‘My Love from the Star’ have cemented the market leading position of Korean drama series.

As Samsung had the budget to appoint actors Jun Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun as its latest top-tier smartphone Galaxy S5 spokespersons, the firm should be able to clinch a deal with the drama series’ copyright owners to secure an exclusive deal to pre-install the whole series of ‘My Love from the Star’ into all S5 devices sold. That will help further push the Korean drama trend in the world, observers say.

The video streaming service comes as Samsung has been witnessing slower sales growth of its mobile devices as the high-end smartphone market is cooling off. The market focus is now turning to mid- to low-end segment as users migrate from feature phones to smartphones. Samsung needs to keep its profitable high-tier products on an upward trend to support its battle in the mass market.

Apple is the front-runner in the integration of hardware and content business with its iTunes platform. The iTunes platform, launched in 2003 on desktop Mac, sold digital music for iPod users. Then it extended to support mobile devices like iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch. People now can buy or rent TV dramas and movies on the iTunes store starting from US$19.99 for each season.

Sale of apps, songs, movies and TV has emerged as one of the key businesses for Apple, with the operation contributing 10 percent of the firm’s fiscal second-quarter revenue this year.

Facing a challenge from streaming music services like Spotify, which has more than 10 million paid users now, Apple is revamping its digital music services by offering iTunes Radio to provide free music streaming service to users. The service is supported by advertising revenue.

There has been speculation that Apple’s proposed acquisition of Beats Audio was mainly due to the Beats Music streaming service which can help in the fight against Spotify.

Now, with the Samsung announcement, the US firm has another flank to protect. The battle will be interesting to watch. 

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EJ Insight writer

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