retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Apple yesterday, as expected, announced the launching of a series of bundled subscription services that are designed to provide content-driven growth for a business in which hardware sales have begun to stagnate, not to mention provide stuff to watch, read and play with on the some 1.4 billion Apple devices currently active.

The services include Apple News +, which will offer subscriptions to hundreds of newspapers and magazines; Apple TV +, which will compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon with original programming in which the company has invested roughly $1 billion and is doing business with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston; and Apple Arcade, which will be a streaming gaming service.

Apple also unveiled a new, no-fee Apple credit card that will use Apple Pay, and that the company says will not share shopper information with third parties, and that will have a rewards program associated with it.

Axios writes that “this isn't exactly like Amazon Prime, where you pay a big yearly cost in exchange for a huge array of offerings. But it appears to be a step in that direction, with hardcore Apple users now easily able to pay the cost of a subsidized old iPhone in annual subscriptions alone.”

The New York Times writes that “Apple is trying to make sure you never leave all those Apple devices you have acquired over the years … But Apple is coming late to the game. Netflix has been making original programming for seven years and will spend at least $10 billion on content this year. Amazon and Hulu have also made tremendous inroads with the industry.”
KC's View:
It is going to take time for this all to shake out, and it is hard to envision at this point how this is going to dovetail or compete with other offerings; I have to wonder about the degree to which consumers are going to be able to absorb all these various services and figure out the relative costs.

There are elements to the Apple offering that are intriguing. But I cannot shake the feeling that something else is going to have to go, and I’m not sure what … especially since I’m already invested in other, existing content ecosystems.

That may be the real lesson in all this … you cannot afford to give the competition too much of a head start, especially with they’re in the business of creating ecosystems designed not just to compete, but to create an enveloping reality from which you don’t have to emerge.