One day soon, all those Apple services you subscribe to — Apple News Plus, Apple Music and the recently launched Apple TV Plus — could be packaged together in one neat bundle that costs you one discounted monthly fee. The only real question is, why doesn't Apple do this already?
Word of Apple's bundle plans comes from Bloomberg, which reports that Apple is considering packaging up some of its subscription services into a bundle as soon as 2020. The report, which cites "people familiar with the matter" as its source, calls out Apple's news, music and original programming offerings as the likely candidates for a bundle, as Apple eyes boosting its subscription numbers.
Revenue from subscription services has become an increasingly important part of Apple's business, especially as sales of the iPhone — once the main engine behind Apple's growth — have leveled out. Apple saw record revenue from subscription services during its fiscal fourth quarter, and the company is on track to meet its goal of doubling its 2016 revenue from services by next year.
That explains why Apple has spent 2019 launching so many subscription-based services. While Apple Music has been around since 2015, it's since been joined by subscription services for news (News Plus), games (Apple Arcade) and programs that Apple has spent millions of dollars to produce (Apple TV Plus).
But these services can add up. Both Apple Music and News Plus cost you $9.99 a month each, while Apple Arcade and Apple TV Plus both cost $4.99. If you've bought new Apple devices, you can get a year's worth of Apple TV Plus for free. Throw in services like iCloud — 50GB of storage costs $1 each month, with 200GB ($2.99/month) and 2TB ($9.99/month) tiers also available — and you can be sending anywhere from $31 to $40 each month to Cupertino.
That's great for Apple's bottom line, but less good for yours. So you can understand why consumers might be wondering why Apple hasn't bundled up some of those subscriptions into a package with a discounted monthly rate.
Certainly, I've been reluctant to pull the trigger on either Apple Arcade or Apple TV Plus, and not just because Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon from The Morning Show could show up in my kitchen to re-enact scenes, and I probably wouldn’t even bother to turn my head. Rather, I look at the News Plus subscription I already have and wonder just how much more of my monthly budget needs to be earmarked for Apple's benefit. A bundle that includes those services might ease some of my concerns.
Disney certainly seems to understand that with its newly launched Disney Plus service. You can pay the $6.99 per month to get the whole catalogue of original shows and Disney vault classics, or you can opt for a $12.99 bundle that includes Hulu and ESPN Plus. Since I already get Hulu and was eyeballing an ESPN Plus subscription now that I've cut cable out of my life, this is probably the route I'm going to take, once Disney+ works through those opening week bugs and maybe figures out what aspect ratio in which to stream Simpsons episodes.
So if Disney has figured out the customer-drawing power of bundles, why hasn't Apple? The answer could be in that Bloomberg report, which notes that Apple splits revenue with the publishers participating in News Plus. Presumably, bundling Apple's news service with other subscription offerings would further shrink the slice of the pie that publishers are getting. And with Bloomberg noting that some publishers aren't exactly thrilled with their return from News Plus, that could be a hard sell.
Whatever the hold-up, Apple should put together a bundle of its service, and it should do it soon. On an individual basis, Apple's new subscription services may seem like values depending on how you feel about access to music, news articles, games or original shows. But as a whole, Apple really hasn't made the case for why you should sign up for everything it has to offer.