HBO's groundbreaking "standalone" service -- announced last year -- will bow in April, and cost subscribers $14.99 per month.

Yup, right in time for "Game of Thrones."

But there will be limitations: The standalone service, called HBO Now, will be available to Apple subscribers, and anyone with an iOS device.

Where does that leave the non-Apple universe -- which is the larger universe now? 

Per HBO: "HBO continues to be in discussions with its existing network of distributors and new digital partners to offer HBO NOW. At launch, HBO NOW will be available on iOS devices and on PCs."

I am further told that Apple will have a three-month exclusivity "as [the] only non-PayTV provider to offer HBO NOW" but that Time Warner is "in conversations with all pay TV providers."

The way this will work is fairly straightforward -- download the app to the iPhone, iPad or any other iOS device, and away you go. There's a 30-day introductory period for those who sign up "through Apple ... in April."  After that, the per-month fee kicks in. 

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Why groundbreaking? This will be the first time in history a major cable network will be available to subscribers without ... cable. Showtime plans a similar service as well. This will be closely scrutinized for all sorts of reasons: Notably, will this spur "cord-cutting," or will the subscribers to HBO Now simply be people who never had cable in the first place?  HBO is in fact hoping for the latter: young adults who have poached parents' sign-in/password information to watch HBO Go free of charge already. (Of course, perhaps another key question: Will this stop them from continuing this not entirely benign form of piracy?) 

More from HBO: 

"HBO NOW provides instant access to HBO’s acclaimed programming. Watch every episode of every season of the best series programming, more of the biggest and latest Hollywood hit movies, original HBO Films, groundbreaking documentaries, sports and comedy and music specials. To subscribe to the streaming service HBO NOW, consumers only need the internet."