Update: Apple’s rumored iPhone subscription service was not announced at the Far Out event, but Mark Gurman believes it could still arrive in time for the holidays.
This Wednesday Apple will launch new iPhones, but the Far Out event could also see the announcement of a new way of buying and selling the company’s phones.
Mark Gurman, a leaker with a large readership and decent predictive track record, has posted a preview of Apple’s September 7 event, and slips in a mention of its rumored hardware subscription service near the end. There are few new details in the article, but we already have a rough idea of how this would work from when Gurman originally predicted it back in the spring.
By paying a monthly subscription fee, customers will get a new iPhone and very likely a number of bundled services such as Apple TV+ or extra iCloud storage. Gurman says it will be tied to Apple One, the company’s services bundle, but it’s unclear how much more expensive this would be with the handset included.
Back in the spring, Gurman thought the subscription service might attempt to undercut the current iPhone Upgrade Program, which starts at $35.33 per month. He proposed monthly fees of $35, $45 and $50 for the latest iPhones in standard, Pro and Pro Max spec, albeit stressing that these were “obviously just back-of-the-envelope math.”
But if Apple One services are thrown in, that points at higher pricing. After all, Apple One Premier, the current top tier, costs $29.95 per month on its own. If you’re getting everything, logic would suggest something well north of $50, although Apple may well try to achieve a lower headline number by offering a subscription with only a few of the services bundled in.
Regardless of the pricing strategy Apple goes for, expect to pay more than the total retail price of the phone over the course of ownership. There will be savings on the bundled services–you can currently save around $20 a month by taking out an Apple One Premier sub rather than paying for the services individually–but Apple is always more generous with software or entertainment products that have a fixed cost to the company than ones where it has to worry about per-unit margins.
Gurman stops short of predicting that iPhone+, as the subscription service could in theory be branded, will be announced at the Far Out event. “As of now,” he instead writes, hedging his bets, “I have no reason to believe that [it] won’t happen before the end of the year.” And we all know that the iPhone 14 launch won’t be the last Apple event of 2022–it might not even be the most interesting.
Nevertheless, it would plainly make more sense to announce a new iPhone payment system at an iPhone event than at one which focuses on Macs and iPads.
We’ll find out on Wednesday whether Apple is ready to announce the iPhone subscription service. If you’d like to get the news right away, you can watch the event live and of course follow all the announcements and analysis right here on Macworld.