Yesterday saw the launch of several new Apple services that have analysts and experts wondering how they will appeal to consumers. Do any of them tempt you?
Apple took a big step outside its previous comfort zone at its event in California yesterday evening, moving decisively into the services, games and content areas it has previously dabbled in.
There were no hardware announcements outside of social media yesterday. Instead it was all about payments, content, celebrities and games.
Perhaps the biggest move from Apple was the launch of its own credit card. That’s just in the US for now, with no indication of whether Apple will expand that into the UK, but it’s a smart move by the tech giant to expand its offerings while further locking users into its ecosystem.
Expanding the Apple ecosystem
Make no mistake: keeping users in the ecosystem is a huge part of any tech platform’s strategy these days.
Once you have the devices – the phones, the laptops, the smarthome kit etc – it’s harder and harder to switch away as you’re so heavily invested. Making services work closely with hardware is the holy grail.
The Apple credit card is both a real card – posh titanium – and a virtual one, tied closely to the iPhone with its AI-powered app that Apple says will track your spending, match your purchases with the retail outlets via Apple Maps and show you colour-coded graphs of precisely where your money is going.
Apple was also touting the security of the credit card, both real and virtual – for anyone security-minded, this is particularly interesting.
Apple already handles payments in a much more private way than Google’s Android Pay does, keeping the transaction details private between the retailer and the user, while Google Pay collects purchasing data and stores it in the cloud.
There’s no card number or CVV code (the final three digits on the signature strip) on the Apple card – it’s designed to be used with the phone. That’s genuinely innovative, and will be watched with interest.
Moving into content
Apple is moving much more decisively into journalistic content with its News+ offering, billed as ‘an immersive magazine and news reading experience’.
Apple says it will offer more than 300 magazines including premium titles such as National Geographic, Elle, Fast Company and Conde Nast Traveler. It also has two newspapers signed up – the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times.
With a subscription cost of $10 a month, it’s easy to see how this is a tempting package for consumers, but analysts have been scratching their heads over what’s in it for the publishers.
The Wall Street Journal, for example, is a premium subscription publication, costing $30 a month, so being on the News+ platform will undoubtedly mean some people who might have shelled out for a full subscription will instead cut their costs and read the paper via their iPhone’s News+ app.
And then there are the films/TV programmes and the games. The launch in California yesterday was awash with celebs, including legendary director Steven Spielberg and all-round big hitter Oprah Winfrey.
Too many subscriptions?
Again, this has the analysts scratching their heads: with big, well-established players Netflix and Amazon throwing money at making original films, dramas and documentaries, what can Apple bring to the table here?
Why would someone already shelling out for those two subscriptions, plus cable (in the US) or Sky, want to add another content provider when there are already nowhere near enough hours in the day to watch the raft of content already available?
If you’re an Apple user, do you see yourself signing up for any of these new services as and when they arrive in the UK? And if you’re not an Apple user, would any of these encourage you to switch over?