Just Like Video Calling, Apple Could Help Popularize Hardware-Based Subscriptions

Apple iPhone SE phones on table.
John Velasco | SPY

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Apple has always been a trendsetter. The late iTunes service paved the way for downloading music and taking it with you on the go, and almost no one considered video chatting to be feasible until FaceTime made it as easy as could be. Apple was even one of the first companies to break away from the standard grey and white color scheme of most electronics and began offering brighter, bolder colors in the late 90s and early 2000s with iMac. Now, Apple might be able to make yet another idea trendy: hardware subscription services, especially for its iPhones.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that Apple is working on a subscription service for iPhone and other products that would make ownership as simple as paying a monthly fee. So far, Apple hasn’t focused too heavily on monthly recurring sales, but if this subscription service becomes standard it would be their biggest foray into this type of payment system. The company offers multiple subscription services (like Apple TV+, Apple News+, and more) but nothing on the hardware front. No official comment has been made, but the news is garnering a lot of speculation.

Though little information has been released so far, the cost wouldn’t be that of a specific piece of hardware divided over 12 or 24 months; instead, it would be a set fee to be paid on a monthly basis. It would be more akin to leasing the hardware, but it would also allow users to potentially upgrade their iPhones whenever a new model drops — historically, once per year. While iPhone is the primary piece of hardware that comes to mind, iPad and Apple Watch are also possible options for this program.

Some programs like this already exist among other companies, but they aren’t widely popular. That said, Apple fans are a different breed; many people like to upgrade their devices once per year to stay up to date with the latest technological improvements. If Apple’s prior track record proves anything, the idea of a subscription-based hardware service like this could catch like wildfire if presented by Apple.

The plan would ostensibly include the company’s software offerings, too, like Apple Arcade, Fitness+, and even additional iCloud storage. The speculation is that Apple will announce this plan near the end of 2022 or in early 2023, but again, the company has yet to make any statement regarding its future plans.

  

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