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Was Apple the real star of the show at CES 2019?

Yes, we know they weren’t there. That’s the point.

apple logo illuminated in white
Image: AP

I know Apple hasn’t deigned to grace the CES floor since 1992, but just indulge me a little here. Snubbing the trade shows in favor of its own events does help keep the tech world laser-focused on Apple, for good or ill.

Prior CES events have always had some devices to remind us of Apple’s influence. Its design language has been copied multiple times, to the point where it’s almost industry-standard. Third-party accessory makers always clamor to show off their wares at CES, hoping to ride the coat-tails of Cupertino to greatness.

This year at CES 2019, Apple was also there but in more than just spirit. For the first time, Apple’s software offerings would be included on devices from other manufacturers. This is a huge deal, as Apple has long described themselves as a hardware company, preferring to keep their software to their own devices.

iTunes is coming to Samsung TVs

The only real deviation from this in the past was a grudging version of iTunes for Windows, necessary for non-Mac users to manage their snazzy iPhones. Now, it’s iTunes yet again breaking the mold, with a standalone iTunes app coming pre-installed on Samsung’s future smart TVs.

Perhaps Apple has realized that it’s a services company nowadays, and is shifting focus accordingly. Perhaps it’s to silently take more market share away from Samsung’s own streaming offerings. The Apple TV is selling like hotcakes, so it’s not Apple thinking they need to get on board with partners. With Samsung controlling a third of the premium TV market in the U.S., this partnership should provide both companies with more customers.

AirPlay 2 on more devices

That’s not the only home entertainment partnership that talked about Apple during CES 2019. AirPlay 2 was on the lips of many of the large TV manufacturers, with everyone from Sony to Vizio and Samsung all including the screen-mirroring functionality in upcoming TVs. The AirPlay integration will also get partnered with HomeKit, sneakily getting Apple’s home automation routines into your home without an Apple device in sight.

That gives users the ability to use HomeKit devices without needing to buy another hub like the HomePod. Maybe this is in response to Google’s push to get the Assistant into everything or playing catch-up with Alexa and her 28,000-enabled devices.

Either way, Apple’s device sales are shrinking this year and they’ll likely keep shrinking as consumers replace their devices less often. With an already-established library of content and software, Apple’s shift to leveraging this could be a way to increase overall revenue. The Apple television that has long been rumored? Maybe, just maybe they got Samsung to build it for them.

What do you think? Is this a good move from Apple? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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