Apple One, the gadget giant's new bundle of services, will launch this fall, ranging from $14.95 to $29.95 a month for different combinations of subscriptions including Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, Apple News Plus, storage service iCloud and the newly revealed workout service Apple Fitness Plus. The news -- long expected since Apple made services a big part of its strategy more than three years ago -- came at Apple's online event Tuesday, which also focused on its iPads and Apple Watches.
Apple One will be available with a 30-day free trial. The company didn't specify the release date, other than to say it would be coming this fall -- so in the next few months.
Since Apple ramped up creating and selling you more services, it has been widely expected to package these subscriptions together into one bundle to rule them all, so to speak. On Tuesday, Apple finally made the leap with Apple One, but instead of a single package of services, the company unveiled three levels to Apple One with tiered pricing:
- The cheapest tier, called an individual plan, will be $14.95 (£14.95) a month and packages together four services: Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade and 50 gigabytes of storage in iCloud. That's a discount of about $6 a month, compared with paying for them all individually.
- The next tier is a family plan at $19.95 (£19.95). The additional $5 for this plan unlocks the same four services (Music, TV Plus, Arcade and iCloud) but for up to six total people, and the family plan expands iCloud storage to 200 gigabytes. That's a discount of about $8 a month.
- The priciest tier is the $29.95 (£29.95) premier plan, which also offers those same four services and adds Apple News Plus and Apple Fitness Plus (in countries where they're available). Premier also can be shared among up to six family members, and this tier deepens iCloud storage to 2 terabytes. While it's the most expensive, it also offers the widest discount, saving more than $25 a month.
The premier tier will be much more limited in how many places it is available. While Apple One's individual and family plans will be available in more than 100 countries and regions, the extra services in premier are only available in a handful of markets. To access the Apple News Plus part of the premier plan, you must live in one of the only four countries where it's available -- currently Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US. And Apple Fitness Plus will join the premier bundle later this year, but Fitness Plus is launching in just six countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and the US.
What is Apple One?
Apple One is the Apple's latest gambit to lure more people deeper into Apple's interconnected network of devices and services, designed to work most seamlessly together. It's also a major step as Apple closes in on its goal to eclipse $50 billion in services revenue before the year is out.
But Apple One also crystallizes Apple's ambition to become a services powerhouse, something that has already raised the hackles of rivals -- and caught the attention of more than one competition regulator worldwide.
Major competitors like music service Spotify and Fortnite maker Epic Games have cried foul about Apple's practices in its powerful App Store, which offers their apps alongside Apple's own that directly compete against them and others. Claiming Apple abuses the App Store to give its own services a competitive advantage, these complaints have triggered antitrust investigations in Europe and the US, with CEO Tim Cook testifying about it before Congress earlier this year.
Spotify spoke out about Apple One after its unveiling Tuesday.
"Once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favoring its own services," a Spotify spokesman said in a statement. "We call on competition authorities to act urgently to restrict Apple's anti-competitive behavior, which if left unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to the developer community and threaten our collective freedoms to listen, learn, create, and connect."
Apple's constellations of services include Apple Music, its $9.99-a-month streaming music rival to Spotify; the $4.99-a-month Apple TV Plus with big-budget original programming like series The Morning Show and Defending Jacob; and Apple Arcade, its $4.99-a-month mobile game subscription service. Apple News Plus is its $9.99-a-month subscription to access more than 300 magazines and newspapers. And iCloud is its remote storage service, which millions of people use free and which costs between 99 cents and $9.99 a month for expanded capacity.
On Tuesday, Apple also revealed its latest service, Apple Fitness Plus, which is a $9.99 (£9.99)-a-month subscription offering guided workouts tightly integrated with Apple Watch and other Apple devices.
Bundles of online media services aren't new by a long shot. Amazon's $12.99-a-month Prime membership service unlocks a host of services, including its Prime Video rival to Netflix and Apple TV Plus and its Prime Music catalog of streaming tunes. Disney offers a package of its Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu streaming-video services for a discounted $12.99-a-month.
And separate companies work together to bundle deals -- for instance, Spotify offers Hulu or Showtime streaming video services as discounted add-ons to its own paid, premium music subscription. (Editors' note: Showtime is owned by ViacomCBS, the parent company of CNET.)
But Apple is unique in the breadth of services it can group together and in the dominance of its iPhone -- the most popular smartphone in the world and the frequent starting point for hundreds of millions of people accessing many of these services.
But Apple has had patchwork success with the services included in Apple One so far.
Of all the services in Apple One, iCloud and Apple Music are the most popular. iCloud is pervasively used, largely because its free level is baked into how millions of people use their iPhones and other Apple devices. Back in 2016, Apple disclosed that iCloud had 782 million users, though that counted free users and multiple devices. And Apple Music is widely considered to be the closest competitor to Spotify in the race to dominate music streaming. Apple Music hasn't updated the public on its subscriber count for more than a year, but it had 60 million paying members in June 2019. (Spotify, which discloses its subscriber numbers every three months, had 138 million at the end of July.)
But Apple has never hinted at how many people use Apple TV Plus, Apple News Plus or Apple Arcade, which some perceive as suggesting the subscription figures likely aren't impressive. Apple TV Plus, for example, is essentially free for a year for anyone who buys a new Apple device, but Google search interest for Apple TV Plus is lower than that for Quibi. (What's Quibi? Exactly.)
Fitness, as a new service that hasn't launched yet, is still untested in popularity.
Apple typically holds a fall event each year to announce new iPhones before the holiday shopping season. This year, Apple appears to be doing things differently. Leading up to it, Tuesday's event was expected to include news about iPads, Apple Watches, its operating systems software and other surprises. A separate announcement for the next iPhone is expected to come later.
Apple warned investors on a July conference call that this year's batch of new iPhones would arrive "a few weeks later" than in previous years. That puts this year's iPhone launch sometime in October or possibly November.
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