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Yesterday, Cupertino got the kind of fevered coverage usually reserved for the unveiling of Apple’s latest gadget. But this time, the product wasn’t a watch or a phone.
During the two-hour event at the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple’s campus, the company’s leaders detailed its plans to take on Hollywood by creating its own TV shows and documentaries. They also announced a news subscription service and a credit card.
Yes, big-name celebrities like Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon were on hand for the spectacle. But tech watchers were also paying close attention because the announcements are part of a major shift for the Silicon Valley mammoth.
Here’s what you need to know:
Why is this such a big deal?
Apple has spent a decade establishing its dominant place in consumers’ pockets by getting them hooked on iPhones. But after years of record-breaking profits, phone sales are slowing and the company is facing intense competition from the likes of Amazon and Netflix.
So, instead of betting on another gadget, Apple made clear yesterday that it’s “trying to make sure you never leave all those Apple devices you have acquired over the years,” as my colleagues Daisuke Wakabayashi and John Koblin reported.
That means Apple is bulking up on content and services, and focusing less on hardware.
Not that there isn’t a lot of Apple hardware already out there: The company counts roughly 1.4 billion active devices as the perfect vehicles for its new content.
What’s this about more subscription services?
First, there was Apple TV Plus, the video streaming service, which will have original programs and will include shows from networks like HBO, Showtime and CBS. Beyond that, details were sparse. No price was given.
There was more on Apple News Plus, which was described as the “Netflix of news,” but it also raised questions about Apple’s place in an information ecosystem that’s been brutal to existing publishers.
A subscription will cost $ 9.99 per month. It will let subscribers read 300 magazines as well as articles from newspapers including The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Executives with The Journal said they’ll hire new staff members to write content that’s exclusive to the Apple app, which Bloomberg described as a risky move that could “cannibalize existing readership.”
Neither The Times nor The Washington Post has signed on.
Apple also announced a video game subscription service, Apple Arcade, which is set to start this fall.
Here’s what else we’re following
(We often link to sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. We appreciate your reading Times stories, but we’d also encourage you to support local news if you can.)
• At the heart of many Democrats’ “Medicare for all” proposals is the idea that the country should sweep away the mess of a private health insurance system that we have. But that would also disrupt a vast industry that employs at least half a million people. Its companies’ stocks are a staple of mutual funds that make up many Americans’ retirement savings. [The New York Times]
• Michael Avenatti, the outspoken lawyer known for representing Stormy Daniels, burst into the news on Monday: He was arrested in New York for allegedly trying to extort Nike. And he was charged in a separate bank and wire fraud case in California. [The New York Times]
• The suburban community of Escondido was rattled when the police say someone started a fire at a mosque there and left a note referencing the New Zealand attacks. [NBC7]
• “It’s always ‘at least a couple months’ from FEMA.” Many Camp Fire victims are barely hanging on months after the blaze devastated their community, and they feel forgotten. [BuzzFeed News]
• Twelve people, including six coaches, pleaded not guilty to charges related to the college admissions scandal. But the investigation continues, leading to speculation more parents or coaches could be charged. [The New York Times]
• An Escondido company is recalling avocado shipments to six states “out of an abundance of caution.” Officials said the fruit may have been contaminated by listeria bacteria. [The New York Times]
More California stories
• Traci Des Jardins, the chef who helped define fine dining in California, will end the more than two-decade run of her flagship restaurant, Jardinière, on April 27. She plans to focus on Mexican cuisine. [The New York Times]
• The Lakers definitely aren’t in the playoffs. So what’s the team doing? LeBron James hasn’t played in games this inconsequential since his rookie season in Cleveland. But some young players are taking this as an opportunity to get in some reps and prove themselves. [The New York Times]
• Stanford’s women’s basketball team is headed to the Sweet 16 again. It beat B.Y.U. last night in the Cardinal’s bid to make its eighth Final Four in 12 seasons. [The Mercury News]
A Theater Opportunity
• You can get 20 percent off the first week of San Francisco performances of “The Jungle,” a play about migrants in Calais, using the code NYTEVENTS here. The play starts today, but on Friday, you’ll see the show with Michael Paulson, a Times theater reporter, who will moderate a discussion.
And Finally …
What is the San Diego Zoo without its giant pandas? Californians are about to find out.
The bamboo-eating bears have been a consistent main attraction at the zoo for about a quarter of a century. But now, the last two pandas in its conservation program for the animals — a 27-year-old female, Bai Yun, and her son, 6-year-old Xiao Liwu — are set to be “repatriated to their ancestral homeland,” China.
The zoo said that the move honors the terms of its loan agreement with the Chinese government. On its website, visitors were encouraged to say their goodbyes in Panda Canyon until April 27 and share their memories using the hashtag #pandas4ever.
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.