Apple takes a bite out of subscriptions

Apple takes a bite out of subscriptions

From systems, to hardware, to services, the Apple tree continues to blossom

Apple has lifted the curtain on its foray into banking, streaming, gaming, and movies; boldly challenging a litany of other future-proofed success stories in these fields. And it has done so with internet-age glamour, and Hollywood heft. At Monday’s Cupertino ‘Show Time’ event, Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, and even Oprah all took a bite out of the Apple, putting the tech titan at the centre of next generation subscriptions.

The titanium, laser‑etched cash card, launched in partnership with Goldman Sachs and MasterCard and designed by Jony Ive and his team, was the most visually stimulating offering announced, in the largely service-based showcase (which lacked the product-design dramaturgy of many previous ‘stuff’-focussed Apple launches). Setting tongues wagging (and card holders opening, no doubt, when it becomes available in summer 2019) this exciting – and largely unexpected – step into banking will be a global, zero-fee, phone-managed banking option, with attractive cash-back incentives.

Seductively, it promises to streamline processes: it will auto-fill when you’re using Safari, and you can chat seamlessly with your bank via text, for example. This low-key, but genuinely useful, sophistication is reflected in its Apple-appropriate design: a clean white card bares the signature logo, your name, and little else. More like an enviably flashable business card than a credit card, it’s a tasteful accessory that justifies its existence as a physical addition to contactless mobile payments (though an iPhone version of the card remains available).

Apple launch 2019
From left, Jon M. Chu, Steven Spielberg, chief design officer Jony Ive, Rashida Jones and JJ Abrams at Apple Park following its Special Event in Cupertino, California, on 25 March 2019. Courtesy: Apple

Over a decade in the making, Apple’s TV streaming service came as less of a surprise, with the long-awaited announcement of commissioned programming from a roster of headline-tipping names. Apple TV Plus will be available from May 2019, billed as ‘a new home for the world’s most creative storytellers’.

Apple also announced that it’s taking a stand on news, with its new magazine subscription service. Launching in the US and Canada with 300 magazines, Apple News Plus is set to expand to the UK this autumn.

A gaming streaming platform rounds-out the service heavy showcase. Here, curated games for iPhone and iPad form the arcade of today, and can be accessed for a monthly fee, and delivered cross-device. The aim? To eliminate multiple, clunky purchases, while promoting variety of choice.

Crucially, this multi-faceted launch is angled tightly on easy-to-access, long-lasting experiences, while providing enhanced sevices for those who already enjoy the Apple product base. Now i-devices are in ‘a billion pockets’ (as Oprah pointed out at the launch), it seems sensible that Apple has decided to replenish them with elegantly designed subscriptions, helping to keep them firmly in our palms. §

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