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Apple One’s subscription bundles are too cleverly priced to resist

The new Apple subscription service is designed to convince you to spend more.

Apple One’s subscription bundles are too cleverly priced to resist
[Photo: courtesy of Apple]

After years of speculation, rumor, and hype, Apple is ready to bundle its subscription services together.

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Apple One, a new subscription plan coming this fall, will combine Apple Music, iCloud, and several other Apple services together at a discount. Depending on which subscription tier you choose—and there are three of them—you can save anywhere from $6 per month to $25 per month compared to paying for everything separately.

Of course, that assumes you’ll want everything that Apple One has to offer. But looking at Apple’s subscription tiers, they’re all laid out in just such a way that you’ll have a hard time resisting.

What’s included in Apple One

Here’s what each Apple One subscription tier offers:

  • Individual ($15 per month) includes Apple Music, iCloud (50 GB), Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade.
  • Family ($20 per month) includes Apple Music, iCloud (200 GB), Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade for up to six family members.
  • Premier ($30 per month) includes Apple Music, iCloud (2 TB), Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+ for up to six family members.

And here’s what each Apple subscription service costs a la carte:

  • Apple Music: $10 per month for individuals, $15 per month for families
  • iCloud: $1 per month for 50 GB, $3 per month for 200 GB, $10 per month for 2 TB
  • Apple TV+: $5 per month or $50 per year
  • Apple Arcade: $5 per month or $50 per year
  • Apple News+: $10 per month
  • Apple Fitness+: $10 per month

Add these up, and you’d be saving $6 per month with Apple One’s Individual plan, $8 per month with the Family plan, and $25 per month with the Premier plan.

Using what people want to sell what they don’t

As Apple announced its new subscription bundles, I kept thinking back to this tweet from Peter Kafka of Recode, written in August, back when Bloomberg reported (accurately, it turns out) on Apple’s bundle plans. “The problem: Bundles work when they include the thing people love/want/need—sports for cable tv, free delivery for Amazon,” he wrote. “These bundles—per Bloomberg, are made up of Apple’s side gigs.”

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It’s a fair point, but it turns out Apple packaged One so that the services people want or need—that is, Apple Music and iCloud—are the ones that anchor the entire service.

Apple Music is already a huge success, with 60 million subscribers as of June 2019 (the last time Apple publicized its subscription numbers). And while Apple has never offered an official number of paid iCloud subscribers, a group of Barclays analysts estimated in 2018 that 170 million customers were paying for iCloud storage, according to CNBC.

For anyone who’s paying for both services, Apple One will be an easy upsell, adding games and television for roughly a few bucks extra per month. Even those who currently have only Apple Music may find that $5 per month is a reasonable price for Arcade, TV+, and the elimination of iCloud storage headaches.

[Photo: courtesy of Apple]
The forthcoming Apple Fitness+ service could also become a major anchor for Apple One’s Premier tier. The service, which is launching by the end of 2020, will recommend workout videos that users can watch on iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs, with fitness tracking data from an Apple Watch appearing on the screen.

Neil Cybart of Above Avalon estimates that 65 million people are using Apple Watches worldwide, creating a huge potential audience for Fitness+. Apple Music and Fitness+ alone will cost a total of $20 per month—or $25 per month for families—so it’s not a big leap from there to get the entire Premier bundle at $30 per month, which covers every subscription service Apple offers.

Bring on the nags

Those little upsells are designed to help Apple’s gaming, news, and TV services, which clearly need the most heavy lifting. A report by CNBC in November 2019 claimed that Apple was struggling to bring subscribers into Apple News+, causing frustration among news publishers, and the New York Times pulled out of the service in June. Apple has also reportedly shifted its strategy for Apple Arcade, Bloomberg reported in June, with more emphasis on games that will boost retention and engagement.

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As for Apple TV+, until now Apple has been giving away a year of the service to anyone who buys a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. Bloomberg reported in May that only about half of the service’s 10 million subscribers were actively using it, and without a huge back catalog of content, a lot of people could end up dropping the service once their freebies run out. (This may help explain the other subscription bundle Apple announced recently, combining Apple TV+, ad-free CBS All Access, and Showtime for just $15 per month.)

These aren’t necessarily bad services, but they’re tough sells on their own. When Apple One launches later this year, you can be sure Apple will put its well-established system of iOS nagware to use in propping them up.

“Starting this fall, customers with Apple subscriptions will be recommended the right Apple One plan for them so they can sign up with a tap from any Apple device and get even more for less,” Apple’s announcement says.

Translation: They’re going to advertise the heck out of these bundles. And chances are, it’ll work.

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