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Thoughts on an ‘Apple One’ Subscription Bundle

A few big scoops from Mark Gurman yesterday that got lost in the shuffle a bit after Epic went to war against the App Store:

The bundles, dubbed “Apple One” inside the Cupertino, California-based technology giant, are planned to launch as early as October alongside the next iPhone line, the people said. […]

There will be different tiers, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private plans. A basic package will include Apple Music and Apple TV+, while a more expensive variation will have those two services and the Apple Arcade gaming service. The next tier will add Apple News+, followed by a pricier bundle with extra iCloud storage for files and photos.

“Apple One” passes the sniff test as a credible name for the bundle. But this description, if accurate, seems contrary to the spirit of the name. It’s not just one bundle, which to me is what Apple ought to offer. What Gurman describes is a frustrating jumble of à la carte offerings that seems no different than the current situation, where every Apple subscription offering is a standalone service, other than some sort of discount for subscribing to more than one service, but only if you subscribe to them in certain predefined tiers.

What Gurman is describing would offer nothing, for example, if you want Apple Music/TV+ and additional iCloud storage but have no interest in Arcade or News+.

The company is also developing a new subscription for virtual fitness classes that can be used via an app for the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, the people said. That service will be offered in a higher-end bundle with the rest of Apple’s services. Codenamed “Seymour,” the workout package would rival virtual classes offered by companies including Peloton Interactive Inc. and Nike Inc., according to the people.

This service simultaneously seems like a very keen offering from a company that is focused more and more on health and fitness features across its platforms (especially Watch) and more fuel to the fire that Apple unfairly competes against popular services from third parties.

Total scoop for Gurman here if this pans out — this is the first anyone has reported this, I believe. Update: MacRumors had a report on this back in March, including the codename “Seymour”, but if it’s a paid subscription and not a free app, that’s still a scoop for Gurman.

The new bundles will be geared toward families, meaning they will work with Apple’s Family Sharing system that provides access to as many as six people for each service. The offerings are designed to save consumers about $2 to upwards of $5 a month, depending on the package chosen. For example, if a family subscribes today to all of Apple’s major services plus the highest iCloud storage tier, that would cost about $45 a month. A new bundle could knock more than $5 off that.

That’s not much of a discount. To me the whole point of a bundle should be twofold: a greatly simplified offering (“Just buy Apple One and get it all”) at a very compelling price (“Even if you don’t think you care about, say, Arcade and News+, hey, you’re effectively getting them for free”.)

That’s the secret sauce to Amazon Prime. It’s a simple decision — get Prime or don’t — at a compelling price that makes everything other than the free shipping on Amazon purchases feel “free”.

Peter Kafka, on Twitter:

The long-awaited/predicted Apple bundles, coming this fall. The problem: Bundles work when they include the thing people love/want/need — sports for cable tv, free delivery for Amazon. These bundles — per Bloomberg, are made up of Apple’s side gigs.

A great bundle offering does have a linchpin. And while Prime and cable TV are good examples of that, they’re at extremes pricing-wise. Prime makes it feel like a good deal for shipping and everything else is free; cable TV makes it feel like you’re paying a ton of money for a bunch of channels you never watch just to get the ones you do (sports or otherwise).

So let’s think this through and figure out what Apple One “should” include and cost.

The big difference with Apple’s services is that everything is a standalone service, with reasonable à la carte pricing. Arcade and TV+ are just $5/month, including automatic family sharing. News+ is $10/month, including sharing. Music is $10 individually, and $15/month for a family sharing account. Music and News+ cost more (and Music, alone among Apple’s content offerings, charges extra for family sharing) because Apple doesn’t own the content.

Then there’s iCloud, the paid storage tiers for which haven’t changed in years. Right now in the U.S.:

  • 50 GB: $1/mo
  • 200 GB: $3/mo
  • 2 TB: $10/mo

My back-of-the-envelope proposal is that Apple One should cost $15/month for an individual and $20/month for family sharing, and include: Music, TV+, Arcade, and the top tier of iCloud storage. Make News+ a $5/add-on.

Basically: start with Apple Music as the linchpin service in the bundle, charge $5 more than they currently are for Music alone, and include everything Apple owns the entirety of: TV+, Arcade, and iCloud storage. I think they have to charge extra for News+ to pay the participating providers — News+ is more like a bundle unto itself. And that still leaves TV Channels as extra monthly add-ons, too. What Gurman describes sounds basically like “Pay for a bunch of services on top of Apple Music, get one of them free”; what I’m suggesting is more “Pay for one additional service on top of Apple Music, get the rest free”.

That would make for a simple proposition at a compelling price.