Apple Inc. (AAPL) has hired away two key executives from Sony Corporation's (SNE) Pictures Television Production unit. Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who headed U.S. programming and production at Sony, have joined Apple to oversee its foray into original content programming. At Sony, they were responsible for critically and commercially successful shows such as "Breaking Bad" and "The Crown."

The move is a further signal of Apple's intentions for its Services segment. In its most recent quarter, the segment reported revenue of $7 billion. Apple CEO Tim Cook has predicted that the Services division will be worth the equivalent of a Fortune 100 company by the end of this year. (See also: Services to Exceed 33% of Apple's Gross Profit by 2020: Credit Suisse.)

Apple has ramped up its presence in the music and video streaming business in recent years. Apple Music already boasts 27 million paid subscribers within two years of its launch. Last year, the company released an updated version of its TV app with a search facility that enables viewers to quickly begin viewing a particular show or sports program without navigating cumbersome menus. In addition to acquiring rights for "Carpool Karaoke," Apple released "Planet of the Apps," a show about entrepreneurs pitching apps for smartphones, on Apple Music earlier this year. The show received lukewarm reviews. (See also: Apple Offers First Look at Its TV Shows.)

The arrival of Erlicht and Van Amburg could offer substantial upside to Apple's efforts to produce original content. This is because both are established names within Hollywood. Trade publication Variety has listed several scenarios in which they could grow Apple's original programming. For example, they could expand the programming efforts to include films that may be broadcast outside Apple's ecosystem. Similarly, they could ink partnerships with Hollywood content studios or simply acquire existing studios. All of this means that Apple could emerge as formidable competition to Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), both of which are already bankrolling significant money into original content. (See also: Streaming Wars: Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Apple TV.)

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