Apple One: 3 big questions about the subscription bundle we need answered
At Apple's virtual event on Tuesday, we got a first look at Apple One, the new subscription bundle tying together different combinations of the tech giant's services, including Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, iCloud, Apple News Plus, and the newly-announced Apple Fitness Plus. Think of this as Apple's version of Amazon Prime.
Over the past few years, Apple has been heavily investing in its services business, shifting its focus from the hardware that made the company a household name, like the iPhone and the Mac. The introduction of Apple One puts even more emphasis on these subscriptions, and getting people into Apple's growing subscription ecosystem -- and also keeping them from leaving.
On its face, Apple One is a great idea for Apple users who are increasingly faced with subscription overload. If you put everything under one price tag, it's way easier to keep track of your monthly payments, and you might even discover something extra you weren't paying for before for the same price. However, the small amount of storage you get on the two lower-tier plans and the relatively high cost of the Premier plan may make some iPhone fans pause before subscribing, at least until it's more clear how it will all work.
Here are three questions we still have before subscribing to Apple One. We've reached out to Apple for answers, and will update when we hear back.
Read more: Apple One: Price, free trial and everything to know about Apple's new subscription bundle
1. Will the baseline plans ever get more storage?
Apple One has three plans, all of which come with iCloud storage. The $14.95 Individual plan gets you four services and 50GB of iCloud storage, the $19.95 Family plan gets you four services and 200GB of iCloud storage to share across six people, and the $29.95 Premier plan gets you six services and 2TB of iCloud storage for six people.
Anyone who already pays for iCloud storage knows that the 50GB and even the 200GB offered are not enough for people who store lots of photos, videos, music and documents across different Apple devices, or who want to keep multiple devices backed up regularly -- especially if you're sharing with multiple people. The tier structure seems to be pushing you to sign up for the Premier offering, with its massive 2TB of storage.
The Apple One website says that you can purchase additional iCloud storage separately to supplement what's included in your plan. iCloud subscriptions currently cost $0.99 a month for 50GB, $2.99 a month for 200GB or $9.99 a month for 2TB (in the US).
If you are only interested in the Individual plan's services, but could add on that extra 2TB of storage, it would bring your total to $24.94, saving about $5 a month or $60 a year. It seems like Apple will allow you to do that, instead of bumping up to the Premier tier. But ultimately, it would make more sense if the Individual plan included 250 GB, the Family plan included 1TB and the Premier plan included 2TB.
2. Will subscribing get us a discount on a new device (or, will buying a new device get us a discount on the bundle)?
If you are currently subscribing to all or even most of Apple's available services -- Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, Apple News Plus and iCloud -- switching over the Apple One is a no-brainer. The Apple One Individual plan offers a savings of over $6 per month over standard monthly prices, while the Family plan offers a savings of over $8 per month, and the Premier plan offers a savings of over $25 per month, Apple says.
However, if you're not already deep in the Apple ecosystem, shelling out almost $30 a month might be a big ask -- especially considering the current economic climate amid the coronavirus pandemic. But if there's a chance that subscribing could get you a discount on a new iPhone, iPad or Mac, or if buying a new Apple device would get you a discount on the bundle, that might make it more appealing.
3. Will there ever be an "a la carte" budget option?
Though iCloud may be the least flashy service in Apple One, it's likely its most popular: Though Apple doesn't typically share subscriber numbers, in 2016, head of software and services Eddy Cue said on a podcast with Jon Gruber that the company had 782 million iCloud users. That's far more than the reported 60 million Apple Music subscribers or the reported 10 million Apple TV Plus subscribers.
This would lead me to believe that a lot of people would be interested in an "a la carte" budget option for Apple One, that includes iCloud and one other service, like Apple News Plus, for a lower price. It wouldn't immerse you in Apple's services ecosystem as deeply, but would likely be a more appealing choice for people who want to save some money and access more than just iCloud storage.
Time will tell how Apple One is received by Apple users, and if the bundle is enough to get people to switch from their individual subscriptions.
For more, check out everything Apple announced at its latest event.