Before WWDC, I predicted that Apple would start talking about subscription unification during the Keynote. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but it turned out to not be the right time. No one expected any of Apple’s new video content to be ready or announced then, but there was speculation that we might hear something about their Texture acquisition and plans to integrate it with Apple News. Adding a third subscription to Apple Music and iCloud (with a fourth for Video obviously on the way in the next year or so) would have made WWDC the perfect opportunity for such an announcement. I guess Apple has a lot more patience than fans like myself do.
Even though an announcement hasn’t come from Apple yet, credible reports are mounting that a unified subscription is coming. The Wall Street Journal, known for getting news leaks directly from Apple executives, first mentioned the possibility of a unified subscription on June 15th when they announced the big deal between Apple and Oprah Winfrey for exclusive video content. The article mentioned that music, video, news, and iCloud are likely to be included. Considering how reliable Apple leaks and reports from the WSJ are, this report has to be taken seriously.
Three days ago, Jessica Toonkel of The Information posted a second very credible report on this subject. She cites two unnamed sources who corroborate Apple’s plans to bundle multiple subscription services under a single plan. This article differs in that gives a little more information on the topic. According to Ms Toonkel and her sources, Apple will be including music, video, and news, but they did not mention iCloud.
Despite the omission of iCloud, Ms Toonkel does mention its inclusion in the WSJ article, and the fact that these subscription plans and their pricing are still in the planning phase and could change. That is good news in my book, because I want to see everything rolled into one plan for those of us who are all-in on Apple products and services. In my opinion, leaving iCloud on the sidelines doesn’t make sense.
Ms Toonkel also mentions that individual subscriptions will still be available for those who don’t want it all. This will also be necessary for the company’s cross-platform products. On that topic, it will be very interesting to see if a unified subscription has an impact on Apple’s approach to other platforms, as iCloud and Apple News are Apple-only right now, while Texture and Music are cross-platform. Would Apple open up all of their services to get access to more subscribers, or will they lock everything down to drive more hardware sales? Or will they continue to address cross-platform access on a case-by-case basis? It’s hard to say how that will shake out in the long term right now.
The bottom line is that, while this news is welcome, it is really just stating the obvious. If Apple ends up with four different subscription services by this time next year, then they HAVE to unify them in some way. It is clear that Services are a huge part of Apple’s future, and may eventually surpass their hardware in profitability. The only path to continued growth that makes sense is the model that Amazon has already used to great success- bundle your services and use your strengths help you cover your weaknesses and fuel continued growth.