Apple "Prime"

I was listening to the 2/21/16 episode of The Talk Show where John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple were discussing some of the video offerings between Apple and Amazon Prime, and separately, Apple’s financials.

Around the same time (in my listening binge, at least) the guys at ATP were discussing the Apple financials as well, and discussing where services could be the next growth area for Apple if indeed they reach “peak iPhone” any time soon.

During this conversation, and shortly thereafter, I started thinking about the differences between Apple and Amazon, and some of the others in the subscription space, and had a thought.

What if Apple created, for lack of a better term, “Apple Prime” - not for free 2-day shipping, but for services they can uniquely offer to their hardware customer base?

As it stands today, Apple’s services are honestly, a fractured and confusing mess. As someone who supports friends, family, and coworkers with their tech needs, explaining and navigating to all of Apple’s individual service options is a hot mess.

Take a look at the array of options available for someone with an iPhone, for example:

  1. iCloud Storage
    1. 5gb - free
    2. 50 gb - $.99/mth
    3. 200gb - $2.99/mth
    4. 1tb - $9.99/mth
  2. Apple Music
    1. Individual Membership - $9.99/mth
    2. Family Membership (up to 6) - $14.99
  3. iTunes Match - $24.99/yr
  4. iBookstore - $0 to $$$ for individual books
  5. iTunes Video options
    1. TV shows - $.99 - $2.99 per episode
    2. Movies - $.99 - $5.99 per 24 hour rental
  6. Family Sharing (free - but confusing)

Compare this with the bundled features of Amazon Prime for $99/yr - here’s just a partial list:

  1. Free 2-day shipping
  2. Free Same day shipping in some zip codes
  3. Prime Video
  4. Prime Music
  5. Prime Photos
  6. Kindle Lending Library and First Day (1 free book/mth)

While we are at it, let’s look at Google’s storage prices - I think it’s relevant because it ties to document and photo storage options:

  1. Google Drive
    1. 15gb - $0
    2. 100gb - $1.99/mth
    3. 1tb - $9.99/mth
    4. 10tb - $99.99/mth
    5. 20tb - $199.99/mth
    6. 30tb - $299.99/mth
  2. Google Photos
    1. Free/unlimited if compressed or below size limit
    2. Full resolution uses Google Drive space

Lastly, let’s consider Dropbox - for $9.99/mth, you get 1tb of storage that is reliable, sharable, and plays nice when you want to collaborate with others. Dropbox may have shuttered Carousel for photos, but their foray into documents with Paper is something to watch.

Now - getting back to my original premise - what if Apple could bundle their services into a simple, easy to understand product that required a user to make 1 choice - how much do you want to pay.

Looking at the current offerings, Amazon Prime seems to have the best value for cost. My guess, however, is most people buy it for the shipping (that’s certainly the case in my house) and rarely use the other services - or even know about them. Prime Video is becoming the exception to this, but even there, it’s probably a small percentage.

I suggest that Apple could simplify the process of device owners, and at the same time, show growth in services by creating a bundled set of services for 1 - 3 price points.

My suggestion for a base “Apple Prime” at $99/yr:

  1. 200gb of iCloud storage
  2. Apple Music/iTunes Match
  3. Free/Reduced cost streaming options for TV and Movies from iTunes Store
  4. iBook incentives from the iBookstore

Thinking further, perhaps a “Apple Prime Family” option - for $199/yr, up to 6 Apple id’s:

  1. 1tb of iCloud Storage
  2. Apple Music Family Plan/iTunes Match
  3. Free/Reduced cost streaming options for TV and Movies from iTunes Store
  4. iBook incentives from the iBookstore

Obviously, one can tweak and quibble with the options and pricing. In general, if Apple could present the user with 1 or 2 clear, easy to understand options, that are easy to sign up for, and compare favorably with their competitors, I feel they would solve a few issues.

First, it simplifies the options to the end user - Mom - you bought a new iPhone? - congratulations - do you want more space to store those photos of the grandkids, and you can listen to any music you want, any time? Great, pay $X/yr and you have it.

Second, if it is easy to understand, then my guess is more people will sign up, increasing growth in that segment. It’s not iPhone money - nothing can be, but it’s another area that they can continue to improve in, and create newer compelling options, further locking in customers for upgrades to hardware every 2-3 years, and creating a new repeating revenue stream.

I for one would buy in, and based on my interactions with the people I help set up new iPhones almost weekly, they would too.

--kw