Apple will usher in a new era for the company during an event on Monday, marking their largest strategic shift since launching the iPhone in 2007, Bloomberg speculates. When Tim Cook takes the stage, he is expected to unveil not a new gadget or revamped hardware, but rather describe Apple’s deeper push into the digital services space, potentially including movies, television, and even video games.
“This is a pivotal shift for Apple and in our opinion the biggest strategic move since the iPhone was unveiled in 2007,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “There is massive pressure on Cook and Apple to deliver on services, with streaming content a potential linchpin of growth.”
Across major markets in the developed world, sales of Apple’s strongest modern moneymakers — smartphones, computers, and tablets — are down. In response, the company has turned significantly to their existing digital services, including Apple Music and their cloud storage solutions.
Bloomberg predicts that Apple’s digital pivot could resemble Amazon’s Prime offering, delivering a suite of digital services in a single package that could include a range of things including news, music, movies, and video games. Apple has previously discussed the possibility of making such services available at a discounted rate when bundled together.
— CNET (@CNET) March 19, 2019
“If Apple executes with minimal speed bumps and aggressively acquires content, given the company’s massive installed base and unmatched brand loyalty we believe reaching 100 million subscriptions in the medium term (3 to 5 years) is a realistic goal that could translate into a $7 billion to $10 billion annual revenue stream over time,” Ives said in a message to investors.
Of all the possible components of a digital services menu from Apple, the long shot of the bunch may be the video game subscription, as it would most significantly require a reinvention of current norms and distribution models. According to unnamed sources, however, Apple has been in talks with a number of potential gaming partners in pursuit of a premium gaming subscription model. The subscription would reportedly focus on existing hardware like iPhones and iPads, giving customers the ability to access a variety of premium games on the platform for a monthly fee.
Similar to existing digital subscriptions, Apple would collect that revenue and share it with game developers, with one source indicating that developers could earn a larger share of the fees based on how much time users spent on their games in particular.
One looming question is whether these services will be open to the marketplace in general or limited to Apple’s devices, a major strategic consideration that the company and competitors continue to navigate as lines blur between hardware, software, and services.