According to a new Bloomberg article, Apple is working on selling iPhones and iPads as part of a hardware subscription service. Which author Mark Gurman believes might launch next year.
The move would be consistent with Apple’s overall push toward subscription services. Apple has emphasised recurring subscriptions. Such as Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple News Plus, Apple Fitness Plus, and Apple Arcade as major new income streams for the corporation in recent years. Many of these services have already been combined together in Apple’s Apple One packages.
On the hardware sector, we’ve already seen a similar shift. Apple introduced a monthly subscription plan for its AppleCare extended warranties in 2019. And, since 2015, Apple has offered its iPhone Upgrade Program. Which allows customers to spread the cost of AppleCare and an iPhone over 24 months. With the option to trade in their device after 12 months of payments. In many ways, both of those applications already resemble hardware subscriptions.
Apple Already Offers Monthly iPhone Payments
Bloomberg’s report does not specify how a subscription programme would differ significantly from those currently available. But it’s easy to imagine Apple expanding on the instalment model of the iPhone Upgrade Program by allowing customers to add other Apple services. Or an entire Apple One plan for a single, monthly fee.. Right now, you can pay Apple monthly for its services as well as an iPhone. But these are still distinct costs and plans to handle.
It’s difficult to picture Apple merely lending out machines on a monthly basis. Will you be able to “subscribe” to an iPhone for a single month? As you do with Apple TV Plus to binge a season of Ted Lasso? Similarly, a scenario in which Apple requires users to invest months of dollars in a device only to return it at the conclusion of the process appears improbable.
It’s likely that Apple is merely aiming to eliminate the middleman and expand its installment-based payment options to other products. Customers who participate in the iPhone Upgrade Program basically take out an interest-free debt with Citizens One. Which they subsequently repay over the duration of the 24-month plan. Apple Card customers can also pay for Apple products in monthly instalments without incurring interest. However this is only available to a tiny proportion of Apple consumers. A subscription service based on Apple could reduce those restrictions. While also allowing Apple to expand it to other hardware devices (such as the iPad or Mac desktops).
But, while details are scarce, one thing is certain: Apple’s subscription ambitions are still in their early stages.