The stock market continued to grind higher on Tuesday despite worsening pandemic news and high levels of uncertainty surrounding the economy. Cases of the novel coronavirus are surging in some states following the easing of stay-at-home orders that had kept the virus in check. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 2.16%) was up about 0.85% at 2 p.m. EDT.
Shares of Apple (AAPL 2.14%) and Disney (DIS 1.92%) helped drive the Dow higher. Apple stock surged after the company announced that it was moving its Mac computers to its own custom chips, and Disney stock rose as the entertainment juggernaut set launch dates for its Disney+ service in new markets.
Apple moves away from Intel chips
In a widely expected move, Apple announced during its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday that it was officially moving away from Intel chips in its Mac computers in favor of its own custom chips. The iPhone and iPad have long been powered by Apple-designed, ARM-based chips, but the company's Macs have relied on the same x86 Intel chips that power most Windows PCs.
Switching architectures comes with headaches for developers, and Apple has taken steps to make the transition as seamless as possible. The company said that most developers will be able to get their apps working on the new architecture within a few days using Apple's tools. Developers will also be able to create a single app that runs on both the new architecture and Intel-based Macs. ARM-based Macs will be able to run software that hasn't yet been updated for the new architecture using emulation technology.
The move away from Intel allows Apple to leverage years of experience designing its own chips for its mobile devices to further differentiate Macs from standard PCs. It will also make life easier for developers in the long run, since all of Apple's devices will be based on the same architecture.
The first ARM-based Macs are set to launch by the end of the year, and the transition away from Intel will take about two years. If Apple's own chips can beat Intel's on performance, the company could pick up some additional share in the PC market. Shares of the tech giant were up about 3.2% by Tuesday afternoon.
Disney+ continues to expand abroad
While much of Disney's business has been hit exceptionally hard by the pandemic, the Disney+ streaming service has been a smash hit. Disney+ surpassed 50 million subscribers back in April, less than six months after launching. Aggressive pricing has been part of the strategy: Disney+ costs just $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year in the U.S.
Disney focused on the U.S. and a few other markets at launch, but the company has been slowly rolling out the service globally over the past few months. Disney+ is currently available in some major European countries, including the U.K., Germany, and Italy, as well as in India, Japan, and a smattering of other markets.
On Tuesday, Disney announced the next batch of countries set to receive the service. Disney will launch Disney+ in Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, and Sweden on Sept. 15.
Given Disney's vast catalog of high-quality content, it may be a matter of time before the company catches up with market leader Netflix in terms of subscriber count. Netflix had 182 million paid streaming subscribers at the end of the first quarter, with the majority outside the U.S.
Shares of Disney were up about 1% by Tuesday afternoon.