The way consumers prefer to pay for their products has changed, leaving many businesses scrambling to adapt. One company that hasn’t struggled to keep up with changing consumer needs is Apple.
Apple has been building their subscription commerce ecosystem for a while now. They’ve created a vast (and somewhat complex) suite of subscription-based products, including Apple Music and Apple TV+.
Let’s look at Apple's subscription offerings, how they simplified their subscription ecosystem for customers, and what your business can learn from their approach.
What you can learn from all the subscriptions Apple offers
Apple has built a great set of subscription products over the years. Let’s take a look at the products and how each provides value for the user.
Apple Music is exactly what the name suggests. For as little as £4.99 per month, users can stream millions of songs ad-free and access over 30,000 expert-curated playlists and a great range of original content.
Apple Music has a range of tiers available to purchase depending on what the customer wants. This way, users gets the most value out of their subscription and don’t pay for features they’re not using.
- Voice: The basic plan is £4.99 per month and gives users access to the entire Apple Music library. This plan is only for users who want to listen on Apple devices like iPhones or Macs.
- Individual: This plan is £11.99 a month and allows users to use Apple Music on non-Apple devices. It also unlocks higher audio quality, spatial audio, lyrics view, and downloading and listening to music offline.
- Student: As the name suggests, this is a discounted rate on the Individual plan exclusively for students.
- Family: The Family plan has the same features as the individual plan, but it offers six distinct user profiles for all the family. It offers a significant discount for families using Apple Music at just £16.99 a month.
Apple TV+ gives users a great range of original content. For £6.99 a month, users can watch great content exclusive to the platform, including Emmy-winning TV shows like Ted Lasso. Apple is steadily increasing the original content available on TV+, bringing in big-name actors like Gary Oldman, Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Ryan Reynolds to help raise interest in the platform.
Apple Arcade started as a way to enhance mobile gaming on iPhone and iPad but has grown into a fully-fledged gaming platform. At £4.99 per month, Apple Arcade packs in value by removing adverts and in-app purchases from over 200 games. They have also created a range of original games for Apple Arcade subscribers, like Jetpack Joyride 2.
iCloud+ is Apple’s cloud-based storage platform. Much like its competitors, it offers automatic back-ups and background sync to ensure your data is safe and sound. iCloud+ is an extremely low-priced platform starting at just 79p per month for 50 GB of storage, scaling up to 2 TB of cloud-based storage for just £6.99 a month. The incredibly reasonable pricing of iCloud+ makes it a no-brainer for Apple product users who need a simple storage solution.
While Apple’s first attempt at a news subscription platform (Newsstand) fell apart, Apple News+ has managed to pull off what Newsstand couldn’t. It offers users ad-free viewing for hundreds of magazines and leading newspapers both on and offline. It’s a little pricey at £9.99 per month, but offers value by condensing multiple low-cost subscriptions to different vendors into a single app with one cost.
The Apple Watch turned Apple into a fitness lover’s choice for smart devices and tracking fitness. Fitness+ takes the existing Fitness app’s benefits and supercharges it with a giant library of 4K Ultra HD fitness and wellness content. For £9.99 a month, users can work out in the gym, at home, or even while jogging around the neighbourhood with their favourite Apple Fitness+ instructors. Fitness+ also ties in nicely with Apple Music by letting users know what songs are playing during workouts.
If there’s one thing Apple knows, it’s how to please their customers. A key complaint from many subscribers is that there are too many subscriptions to keep track of, and they quickly add up.
To solve this issue, Apple introduced a single subscription package that allows customers to get all the Apple products they love for one low price. They call this Apple One.
Apple One offers three tiers that lets customers scale their subscription to fit their needs.
- Individual: Priced at £16.95/month users save £7 per month compared to individual subscriptions. This first tier includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and iCloud+ with 50 GB of storage for one person.
- Family: This second tier offers the same features as the individual plan and can be shared between 5 people. For just £22.95/month the family plan also offers 200 GB of iCloud+ storage.
- Premier: The final tier gives access to all of the family plan features and adds Fitness+ and News+ for £32.95/month, offering a saving of £23 per month. The iCloud+ storage is also upgraded to 2 TB.
Key takeaways about Apple's subscriptions
Apple’s subscription strategy is complex. While it works for them, it’s worth keeping in mind that they are the largest tech company in the world with literally trillions of dollars and the highest level talent at their disposal.
They launched many of their subscription services by offering them at a loss and they offer generous free trials for all of their products, which become more generous when customers purchase other Apple products. For example, you get three months free Fitness+ with the purchase of an iPhone, iPad, or Apple watch. So while this approach works well for Apple, smaller businesses looking to launch subscriptions should consider if they have the budget to make this model work.
What smaller businesses can take away from Apple’s subscription strategy is finding ways to integrate or combine different offerings. Look to how they create bundles with Apple One or how they create Apple Music playlists for Fitness+ workouts for inspiration.