Apple is planning a hardware subscription service for the iPhone and other popular devices, according to Bloomberg. Mark Gurman claims that this will be Apple’s “biggest push yet into automatically recurring sales.” For the first time, users can subscribe to a device rather than a service. Gurman also notes that the project is still in development.
Apple’s iPhone subscription service
Apple is one of many companies that has prioritized recurring payments in recent years. From Apple Music and Apple TV Plus to Apple Arcade and iCloud, Apple offers a number of services with monthly fees. In 2020, Apple even combined some of its subscription services into the Apple One bundle, which costs $14.95 a month.
Apple’s goal would be to make the process of buying a device similar to paying for iCloud storage or Apple Music every month. Customers will reportedly be able to use the same Apple ID and App Store account they use to buy apps and subscribe to services.
In many ways, this sounds like an upgrade to the iPhone Upgrade Program. Introduced in 2015, the iPhone Upgrade Program allows customers to pay for an iPhone and AppleCare+ monthly over the course of 24 months. After making 12 payments, program members can upgrade to a new iPhone and start a new plan if they want.
The biggest difference would be that the monthly charge wouldn’t be the cost of the device split over 12 or 24 months. Instead, Apple will come up with a new monthly fee. That fee will be higher or lower depending on the device the customer chooses.
Apple has also discussed allowing hardware subscribers to upgrade to newer models when they come out. Apple typically introduces a new iPhone, Apple Watch, and at least one iPad every year. This might simplify the upgrading process as well.
When will this new service launch?
According to Gurman, Apple has been working on the iPhone subscription service for many months. It temporarily took a backseat to a “buy now, pay later” service, but it’s still on track to launch before 2022 ends. That said, as with every unannounced Apple product or service, the company could delay it or scrap it altogether before it sees the light of day.
Gurman also notes that this new service could potentially spell the end of some older ones. The iPhone Upgrade Program would certainly be less appealing if the hardware subscription service has a cheaper monthly charge. Furthermore, all Apple Card users are able to finance just about any hardware that they buy with 0% interest.
Of course, one of the keys to modern successful subscription services is that they don’t lock customers in. Will that be the case for the iPhone subscription service? Would Apple really let customers rent an iPhone 14 Pro Max for a month or two and then return it? There’s still plenty we don’t know, but it sounds like we might by the end of the year.
More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.