Such is their scope; there is no one phrase that defines the activity of Big Tech companies in the global marketplace. However, when it comes to entertainment, we could argue that the most important watchword is ‘ecosystems’; namely, the concept that we are brought into the orbit of a particular company’s products and encouraged to stay within that ‘ecosystem’.
Of course, Apple has always been at the forefront of building ecosystems, both in the sense of closing itself off from standard models and making it attractive for customers to stay within the orbit of its products. And yet, when it comes to entertainment, it’s arguable that Apple lags behind some rivals, notably Amazon. The bundling of Amazon Prime products has been a success story for the tech giant, and competitors are taking note.
Bloomberg reported in late 2019 that Apple Inc is considering bundling its paid-for products, with the initial suggestion of packaging Apple TV Plus, Music and News together. One of the reasons cited is a stagnation in the sales of handsets, forcing Apple to look to shore up its other revenue streams. Bundling isn’t a new concept, of course, and there was a rush to get free Apple TV along with Music subscriptions (students only) last October.
Streaming wars will heat up in 2020
However, the intriguing aspect here is not what Apple will initially offer as a bundle, but where it might go with it in the future. The chance to throw in everything from iCloud data to the iPhone Upgrade Programme has Apple users excited.
All of this comes at a time when Big Tech’s role in entertainment feels like it is hurtling towards some sort of endgame. The so-called streaming wars have started, with the rebooted Apple TV entering the fray against the likes of Prime TV, Netflix, Hulu and countless others.
The saturation of the market, and the slicing up of the content on them, means that providers will have to come up with something to keep customers eager to pay. Otherwise, other avenues are explored, like VPN services, that let you access blocked sites. Some industry experts have predicted that Apple TV Plus will continue to struggle against the likes of Disney+ and Netflix, with the main reason cited as a comparative lack of content. You can, therefore, see the sense of Apple extending content access through bundling.
Bundles could reshape current payment models
It is worth mentioning that Apple Plus TV as it stands is relatively cheap, and anyone who has bought new Apple hardware recently may have been offered a free annual subscription to the service. That’s a deliberate attempt to bring Apple hardware users into its ecosystem. Moreover, it’s also worth remembering that Tim Cook will see hardware as his ace in the pack when it comes to defeating competitors in this showdown of entertainment packages. That’s a significant advantage held by Apple over Netflix, Amazon and, to some extent, Google.
Indeed, perhaps that’s the natural endgame for all of this – a bundling of hardware, software entertainment, data and everything else in between. Would you pay $150 per month (this figure is idle conjecture to stress a point, and not based on any analysis) for everything Apple? The iPhone, the Mac, the TV, the Music, the Watch, the iCloud, and so on? That kind of ‘super-bundling’ might just be where Apple gets the upper hand in all of this. And, such a concept might not seem unfeasible in the coming years.