Apple could soon rent you its devices.
Apple is known for making some of the best computers, tablets, and smartphones on the market. But Apple is also known for another thing – its relatively high prices. However, the company is now rumored to be working on a hardware subscription service, where a user would pay monthly for their Apple device…but never actually own it.
Here’s what we know about Apple’s rumored hardware subscription service…
What Is Apple’s Hardware Subscription Service?
Right now it’s, technically, nothing. That’s because Apple hasn’t announced any kind of new hardware subscription service. However, Apple is rumored to be working on one at this very moment.
That’s according to a report from Bloomberg. The publication says, “The idea is to make the process of buying an iPhone or iPad on par with paying for iCloud storage or an Apple Music subscription each month. Apple is planning to let customers subscribe to hardware with the same Apple ID and App Store account they use to buy apps and subscribe to services today.”
So, in short, Apple’s hardware subscription service would encompass both the iPhone and other Apple devices. That almost certainly includes Macs, but it’s unknown if a device like the Apple Watch or AirPods Pro would be included in the hardware subscription service.
How Would Apple’s Hardware Subscription Service Work?
Based on Bloomberg’s report, users would be charged a monthly subscription fee for the product, just like they are charged a monthly fee for Apple’s software subscription services like iCloud Plus or Apple TV Plus.
How Would Apple’s Hardware Subscription Service Be Different From Other Pay-Monthly Plans?
You can of course buy Apple products and pay for them monthly instead of upfront. This is how many people buy their iPhones (by paying a monthly fee to the carrier) or how they buy their Macs (by putting the purchase on their Apple Card).
But under those traditional monthly payment plans, the device is entirely paid off in a set amount of time (usually two years) and after that time, the purchaser gets to keep the device forever.
It appears Apple’s upcoming hardware subscription service would mean that the user essentially just rents the device and must give it back to Apple whenever they cancel the service plan.
Isn’t This A Worse Deal?
Not necessarily, because under Apple’s rumored hardware subscription service, the subscriber would be able to swap out their device for the newer model. So if you are renting an iPhone 14 from Apple through its rumored hardware subscription service, when the iPhone 15 comes out, you’d presumably be able to swap the iPhone 14 for the iPhone 15 and keep paying the regular subscription fee you always have been.
Of course, it’s unknown if Apple will take this approach for sure.
What’s In It For Apple?
While you might think Apple would rather sell you a $1,500 iPhone or $2,500 MacBook Pro than rent you one for a small monthly fee, a hardware subscription service could actually boost the amount of revenue Apple collects while locking people into its ecosystem at a more affordable price point for them
In other words, Apple would get another monthly recurring revenue stream, lets users access their latest devices, and still own the devices the users have. In many ways, it’s a win for everyone involved.
How Much Will Apple’s Hardware Subscription Service Cost?
There are no rumors about the cost of Apple’s hardware subscription service. Presumably, each device would have its own bespoke subscription fee. However, it’s also possible Apple could offer hardware subscription bundles, so you could get both a MacBook and iPhone for one monthly subscription fee.
Michael GrothausApple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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