Apple products will be rented like Apple Music, analyst claims

Apple as a service

What if you could always have the latest iPhone, run the latest iPad and have the latest Mac? What if you could access all your music, movies and TV shows and take a ride share summoned by your Apple Watch, all for a single monthly fee, like Apple Music?

Apple as a service

This may sound a little like the good life and will almost certainly mean an expensive monthly bill (and how much for the Family Plan?), but given the deep relationship between your Apple equipment and the best of entertainment and profitable productivity, it may not be so bad. At least according to CCS Insights, who predict Apple will introduce a combined subscription model for its hardware and services in 2018.

“The concept of ‘Apple as a service’ builds on the success of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program,” the analysts said.

The idea seems solid: You pay a monthly fee to get the hardware and services you want to enjoy. You already do if you use Apple Music and the iPhone Upgrade scheme. You’ll always have the latest in this deal.

No one hit wonder

That’s not such a bad move, after all – Apple hardware is highly recyclable, the company already operates a take back scheme in most key markets, and those components maintain value, so the impact on the company’s bottom line could be a positive.

It’s also a positive because it would make Apple revenues far less dependent on product release cycles – it would give the company consistent, repeated, and predictable income. 

Such a scheme would also enable squeezed middle class customers to access Apple products even while in some key markets (such as the UK) the population faces huge decline in income and disposable cash.

Multi-platform Apple

That’s not the only prediction CCS made. The analysts also predict:

  • Apple will extend its apps and services to other platforms by 2018;
  • Apple will launch a mixed reality platform and hardware by 2017;
  • Apple will engage in a bidding war to acquire CityMapper.

All of these seem possible – we know Apple is looking to launch services on other platforms, we know it is exploring AR and we know it continues to invest heavily in maps.

This sporting life

Apple is also likely to begin making big investments in rights to broadcast sports content starting next year, the analysts speculate. Now, that’s not such a bad idea: Not only does it give the company a hook from which to grab future Apple TV sales, but it also resonates well with the company’s many moves within the connected health market.

Imagine, for example, the kind of fun sports fans might enjoy if they could access biometric data (gathered by an Apple Watch) of athletes during a match or other sporting event. Think about how such data is already being used during training, and how building its identity to encompass health and fitness could give the company a strong message in the connected age.

The Apple Way (disruption)

So, do I think all of these things will happen? Probably not, but each one of these predictions has at least some merit, and each one of these could represent a company attempting to free itself from a legacy in which all its success was built on introducing great products in order to build a new future in which it becomes an essential component in everyday life.

There’s some grist to this rumor’s mill: Why else do you think Apple Retail is being redesigned to become a social space? Apple future isn’t just about hardware sales.

I also think the CCS vision of Apple as a services company should be taken a little further, it is how we should look to every technology company moving forward. (Even Microsoft understands this).

The disruptive impact of digital transformation will impact every part of life, and there is not one business or business model that will be left unchanged. There will not be a single preconception as to how things work left unchallenged.

What I'm saying is that the “Apple Way” is subject to transformation just as much as anything else.

If you think about Apple’s entire history, it has been based on enabling such digital transformation – from Mac to iPad and more.

The Apple way is to embrace such change and surf the wave.

Interesting times, indeed.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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