Where is Apple going next with Services?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2020
It did seem as if 2019 became Apple's Year of Services -- not only did it launch so many new ones in splashy events, it also shunted major hardware announcements off into sidelined press releases. We'll have to see how Apple handles hardware in 2020, but this much is certain -- Apple is not done with services.

Apple services. L-R: Apple News+, Apple Card, and Apple TV+
Apple services. L-R: Apple News+, Apple Card, and Apple TV+


In 2019, Apple truly turned from a hardware company that does some services, and into one that is services backed up by some hardware. It's certainly never turning back -- but what's less certain is just what more it can or will do in this area.

However, you can't launch a huge service without at least a hint getting out, especially when that service means dealing with lots of other companies, as happened with Apple News+ and Apple TV+. Even when it was chiefly dealing with one other firm, Goldman Sachs, we saw hints of a coming Apple Card.

Then, too, there is a consistency to how Apple ultimately presents these services to us, how it launches them for the first time.

Over and over, from iPhone to Apple Card, Apple has presented products and services by first describing what's currently available. Then Tim Cook or whoever looks terribly concerned about all the awful problems in those current offerings. And only then does Apple do the good news dance and tell us that it has solved all the issues, that Apple alone has found a way to make a "leapfrog" product or a revolutionary service.

Typically it really has, too, which makes this so much more effective than a marketing spiel. But it remains part of the clue about what can come next.






Apple needs an existing market -- it never entirely creates one. It has to be potentially profitable, which means a lot of people need or want it. There has to be something that means Apple can leverage either its company strengths or the sheer volume of users it has.

It also probably cannot be something that could undermine Apple's other businesses. The company has repeatedly proven willing to cut its own throat, to make its own products obsolete, but only when it has the replacement ready.

Apple's a lot less likely to share any of its jewels, such as design. Apple could design a fantastic Samsung phone, but you will wait longer for that to happen that you will for Android phones to get software updates.

What's next for Apple services

So if there's a spreadsheet in Tim Cook's office that lists services the company could get into, then apart from a column for shower heads, it also has rows devoted to the key issues.
  • Existing market

  • Perceived problems with existing products

  • Profitable with plentiful demand

  • Doesn't undercut Apple's existing services

  • Leverages Apple strengths
When first looking into these new businesses, those strengths don't have to be ones that anybody even knows that Apple has yet. Like automobiles.

Apple Arcade is the company's latest service -- for now.
Apple Arcade is the company's latest service -- for now.


We know Apple is aiming to make a car, there is so much physical evidence that Apple might as well throw up its hands and say you got us, it's coming.

However, the car will not be alone -- or perhaps the driver won't. Whether or not Apple releases a single car or some kind of Apple Car, and Apple Car Pro, it will utilize other products and services. A cynic might call it cross-promotion, but Apple will have a point when it says that it is the car in combination with other devices that make it unbeatable.

Apple is going to crush it with ride sharing. With the vehicle in place, the company would only need to devise an app-based service for organizing and arranging ride sharing.

That's something Apple is very, very good at. If anyone can make a great Apple Car app, it is Apple.

Altough there is one thing that Apple is consistently poor at, and that's anything to do with integrating social media into its services Ping and Connect are just the failures we know about.

Be certain of this, though. That Apple Car is going to come with iPhone and Apple Watch apps that will do more than unlock the doors.

What else must come

We do already know that Apple is planning to produce podcast shows that promote its Apple TV+ series. Alongside those, there have been persistent rumors that the firm will do what Spotify has, and start featuring exclusive podcasts.

Whether they're behind a paywall or made free to users with Apple devices, though, this does seem a slap in the face for Apple. This is the company that made the podcast industry, right down to coining the name.

For a long time, podcasts lived on Apple's systems and if it's still the single biggest platform, podcasting has begun to fracture. Apple could certainly try to hang on to its dominance by producing high-profile exclusives, but we'd want to be clearer on how the firm could make money with this before we'd bet on that.

While Apple has always maintained that it does not consider money to be its driving force, it does do very well financially.

Most recently, and most impressively, it has profited from both Apple Card and Apple Pay. These are so successful that they make easy examples of why Apple even wants to be in services. Compared to the continual development costs of hardware, services like these are expensive to set up and then consistently, persistently vacuum up money forever.

There is surely no question but that Apple will pursue these financial services. We are guaranteed to see Apple Card extend to more countries, for instance.

Apple Card
Apple Card


We've already seen Apple add an iPhone repayment plan to Apple Card, too, so it is far from done with experimenting in financial services.

Head in the clouds

There is one other area that ought to be an obvious win for Apple. The company has the ability to become an online cloud storage provider that would rival Amazon's Amazon Web Services.

Microsoft, with a similar background to Apple in apps and services, has already gone after this market with its Azure service. And in 2019, Apple was itself spending over $30 million per month on AWS.

This is an area with demand, where arguably the existing offerings have deficiencies that Apple's design chops could beat. It's one where the company has undeniable strengths, too, because of its iCloud service.

It had a rocky start, but what's now known as iCloud underpins so much of what Apple does today
It had a rocky start, but what's now known as iCloud underpins so much of what Apple does today


Apple is not very keen on keeping in the background while other firms run their businesses on its service. Or maybe it is, maybe it's so brilliant at it that we simply don't know.

Yet Apple's strengths are clearly, firmly, in consumer products. So an Apple version of AWS is possible, but we're going to see new Apple Cards and a new Apple Car first.

One more thing

More services are coming, and they will be a mix of giant successes like Apple Pay and Apple Music, failures like Ping or Connect, and jury-is-still-out ones such as Apple TV+.

Whether it's because Apple sees an opportunity for cold, hard cash, or just because it simply adores simplicity, there will be one more thing

It will be one subscription that gets you everything. Certainly, surely, a services bundle is coming, but there's reason to think hardware will go the same way.

You could end up paying $100 or so a month to get your iPhone plus all of these services.

And that's actually a compelling possibility. Apple has long been telling developers that subscriptions are the future, but this could be the one that convinces everyone. A one-fee-for-everything Apple subscription is actually desirable, and that's a long way from when we all loathed the idea of subscribing to anything.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 86
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,527member
    Can't believe others are taking Podcasts, an Apple invention, and monetizing it as their own with exclusives. For a decade Apple ignored gaming and Podcasts. Apple is getting what they deserved there. 
    mike54
  • Reply 2 of 86
    IMHO, ApplePay and health are the two sleeper service blockbusters for Apple’s future.

    The rest —especially entertainment-related ones (e.g., AppleTV+, AppleMusic, News, etc) — are likely to be long-run disappointments.
    wonkothesaneargonauttrashman69jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 86
    A flat rate of $100-ish/month for all services IF it includes something remarkable like a good mobile phone service/plan, along with the myriad stuff they already offer, and a few TB of foolproof storage in the cloud... THAT would be game-changing and a huge win for Apple.   One can dream. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 86
    Apple wants to be more in financial services.  Leasing cars, computers, etc.
    Credit 
    Savings accounts
    Investments
    Insurance (anything Apple sells)
    Healthcare/Insurance 
    Education (institution)

    iCloud hasn’t really impressed except for syncing.  There’s other opportunities there but Apple seems to be staying away from competing with Microsoft.

    Apple may be interesting in competing with Twitch when Apple Arcade is built out.
    edited February 2020 dewme
  • Reply 5 of 86
    Alger said:
    A flat rate ... IF it includes something remarkable like a good mobile phone service/plan...
    That is a great idea.
    montrosemacs
  • Reply 6 of 86
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,814member
    Much or what is being billed here as "services" are simply what I would call subscriptions. The holy grail of services from my perspective would be services that take over responsibility for work that I currently have to spend time and effort doing myself. Apple's iCloud storage does provide a thin layer of service utility, for example, I don't have to manually backup my modified documents to a secure storage location. But TV+ and Apple Music aren't really delivering a whole lot of service utility other than what you'd expect from any library or repository.  

    Ultimately, I'd like to see Apple deliver a supercharged version of Siri that acts as a personal concierge for any number of things that I delegate to it, from compiling data for research, bill paying, keeping track of renewable/recurring subscriptions, personal scheduling, scheduling backups, phone screening, prioritizing email, scheduling property maintenance, scheduling health appointments, etc., just to name a few. The theme here is that rather than seeing services as simply new tools or stores that I have to drive myself, hence the need to be connected nearly 24x7, I'd like to see the next generation of services taking over some of my burdens entirely so I can unplug more often and spend much less time serving the needs of the machines and services that are supposed to be serving our needs. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 86
    Apple wants to be more in financial services.  Leasing cars, computers, etc.
    Credit 
    Savings accounts
    Investments
    Insurance (anything Apple sells)
    Healthcare/Insurance 
    Education (institution)

    iCloud hasn’t really impressed except for syncing.  There’s other opportunities there but Apple seems to be staying away from competing with Microsoft.

    Apple may be interesting in competing with Twitch when Apple Arcade is built out.
    When SJ introduced iCloud in 2011 that's exactly how he pitched it - a service that keeps all the data on your devices in sync. So it sounds like to me like it's doing its job.
    trashman69StrangeDayslolliverjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 86
    With all due respect, iCloud is nothing like Azure or AWS. 

    Azure and AWS are not only storage services but mostly cloud compute services. You can run your entire data center in AWS or Azure. Can you run anything in iCloud? 

    For crying out loud, iCloud can't even implement folder sharing among family members. That's just embarrassing, provided that Dropbox was able to do this 10 years ago. 


    Apple had MobileMe with cloud storage before Dropbox was founded, and now, over 15 years later, we still can't share folders! I upgraded all my Macs from Mojave to Catalina a couple weeks ago in order to be able to share folders among family members. Guess what I found out? This feature, which was promised during WWDC 2019, was not implemented in Catalina and was delayed until "Spring 2020". Seriously, Apple? Another disaster project from hell, just like Car Play, Apple Maps, and Siri. 

    iCloud does very very little compared to even Dropbox. Don't brig up Azure or AWS in the same article with iCloud because those services are lightyears ahead of iCloud. 

    When one speaks of Apples services, iCloud should be used as an example of how NOT to do services. Apple did well with Apple Pay and perhaps Apple Card (I wouldn't know anything about Apple Card, as I am not planning to have it). Apple TV+, Apple Maps, CarPlay, Siri, and iCloud, are serious flops on Apple's part. Yes, Apple Maps is still a disaster just like it was in 2012. CarPlay is so inferior to Android Auto that it's not even close. Even when running Google Maps on CarPlay, you can't get anywhere near in functionality of what Android Auto can do, and that's mostly because of how inferior Siri is to Google Assistant. Apple Maps is so bad that you can't use it to navigate to any POI reliably. It simply lacks the intelligence of Google Assistant + Google Search + Google Maps running in Android Auto. For that reason, I keep a cheap Android phone permanently connected to my car's head unit in order to use Android Auto. All my other phones are iPhones. 
    edited February 2020 mike54
  • Reply 9 of 86
    sirozha said:
    With all due respect, iCloud is nothing like Azure or AWS. 

    Azure and AWS are not only storage services but mostly cloud compute services. You can run your entire data center in AWS or Azure. Can you run anything in iCloud? 

    For crying out loud, iCloud can't even implement folder sharing among family members. That's just embarrassing, provided that Dropbox was able to do this 10 years ago. 


    Apple had MobileMe with cloud storage before Dropbox was founded, and now, over 15 years later, we still can't share folders! I upgraded all my Macs from Mojave to Catalina a couple weeks ago in order to be able to share folders among family members. Guess what I found out? This feature, which was promised during WWDC 2019, was not implemented in Catalina and was delayed until "Spring 2020". Seriously, Apple? Another disaster project from hell, just like Car Play, Apple Maps, and Siri. 

    iCloud does very very little compared to even Dropbox. Don't brig up Azure or AWS in the same article with iCloud because those services are lightyears ahead of iCloud. 

    When one speaks of Apples services, iCloud should be used as an example of how NOT to do services. Apple did well with Apple Pay and perhaps Apple Card (I wouldn't know anything about Apple Card, as I am not planning to have it). Apple TV+, Apple Maps, CarPlay, Siri, and iCloud, are serious flops on Apple's part. Yes, Apple Maps is still a disaster just like it was in 2012. CarPlay is so inferior to Android Auto that it's not even close. Even when running Google Maps on CarPlay, you can't get anywhere near in functionality of what Android Auto can do, and that's mostly because of how inferior Siri is to Google Assistant. Apple Maps is so bad that you can't use it to navigate to any POI reliably. It simply lacks the intelligence of Google Assistant + Google Search + Google Maps running in Android Auto. For that reason, I keep a cheap Android phone permanently connected to my car's head unit in order to use Android Auto. All my other phones are iPhones. 
    Please - just stop using Apple products and move on.  You are just miserable 





    Rayz2016StrangeDayslolliverroundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 86
    Apple wants to be more in financial services.  Leasing cars, computers, etc.
    Credit 
    Savings accounts
    Investments
    Insurance (anything Apple sells)
    Healthcare/Insurance 
    Education (institution)

    iCloud hasn’t really impressed except for syncing.  There’s other opportunities there but Apple seems to be staying away from competing with Microsoft.

    Apple may be interesting in competing with Twitch when Apple Arcade is built out.
    When SJ introduced iCloud in 2011 that's exactly how he pitched it - a service that keeps all the data on your devices in sync. So it sounds like to me like it's doing its job.
    “Cloud” when SJ intro-ed it in 2011 is very different from cloud in 2020. Keep up.

    Constraining an Apple product or service “Steve Jobs’ vision” when intro-ed is not terribly useful. All of them evolve.
    argonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 86
    What is under Apple's "services" umbrella? They've claimed a services component for a long time but have been a bit vague about its contents.

    At this point I'm assuming:

    - Card
    - TV+
    - News+
    - Arcade
    - Music
    - iCloud

    The first four were just launched just last year.

    Seems I've heard Apple include AppleCare in its services breakout.

    Anything else?

    edited February 2020
  • Reply 12 of 86
    Beats said:
    Can't believe others are taking Podcasts, an Apple invention, and monetizing it as their own with exclusives. For a decade Apple ignored gaming and Podcasts. Apple is getting what they deserved there. 
    Pretty sure Apple did not invent podcasts. It might have risen in popularity on Apple platforms (e.g., the iPod) but don't think they invented it.
    davgregSpamSandwich
  • Reply 13 of 86
    Curious, with Apple's angle on privacy, if they've ever considered buying DuckDuckGo and pouring enough resources into it to put a dent in Google's primary revenue/profit source.

    Apple Maps was started to avoid being too beholden to Google for a critical service/information capability. They also ditched Samsung on ARM for similar reasons.

    A move like that could be a strategic move.

    The only other thing that immediately comes to mind is for Apple to more seriously pursue the MVNO idea they allegedly considered when launching iPhone.
    edited February 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 86
    red oak said:
    sirozha said:
    With all due respect, iCloud is nothing like Azure or AWS. 

    Azure and AWS are not only storage services but mostly cloud compute services. You can run your entire data center in AWS or Azure. Can you run anything in iCloud? 

    For crying out loud, iCloud can't even implement folder sharing among family members. That's just embarrassing, provided that Dropbox was able to do this 10 years ago. 


    Apple had MobileMe with cloud storage before Dropbox was founded, and now, over 15 years later, we still can't share folders! I upgraded all my Macs from Mojave to Catalina a couple weeks ago in order to be able to share folders among family members. Guess what I found out? This feature, which was promised during WWDC 2019, was not implemented in Catalina and was delayed until "Spring 2020". Seriously, Apple? Another disaster project from hell, just like Car Play, Apple Maps, and Siri. 

    iCloud does very very little compared to even Dropbox. Don't brig up Azure or AWS in the same article with iCloud because those services are lightyears ahead of iCloud. 

    When one speaks of Apples services, iCloud should be used as an example of how NOT to do services. Apple did well with Apple Pay and perhaps Apple Card (I wouldn't know anything about Apple Card, as I am not planning to have it). Apple TV+, Apple Maps, CarPlay, Siri, and iCloud, are serious flops on Apple's part. Yes, Apple Maps is still a disaster just like it was in 2012. CarPlay is so inferior to Android Auto that it's not even close. Even when running Google Maps on CarPlay, you can't get anywhere near in functionality of what Android Auto can do, and that's mostly because of how inferior Siri is to Google Assistant. Apple Maps is so bad that you can't use it to navigate to any POI reliably. It simply lacks the intelligence of Google Assistant + Google Search + Google Maps running in Android Auto. For that reason, I keep a cheap Android phone permanently connected to my car's head unit in order to use Android Auto. All my other phones are iPhones. 
    Please - just stop using Apple products and move on.  You are just miserable 

    I can use Apple products without using Apple services. I still use iCloud for cloud backup of my photos, but that's pretty much it. I'm paying Apple $10/month to be able to back up a 700 GB photo/video library in iCloud. I love ApplePay, which is a good example of how all Apple services should be. I will never get Apple Music, Apple TV+, or use CarPlay unless Apple finally gets serious with CarPlay and Siri. I tried CarPlay when it first came out, and I keep trying to use it every 6 months or so to see how it improved because I don't want to keep an Android phone just for car navigation. Unfortunately, CarPlay is not getting any better, and in fact, it's lagging more and more behind Android Auto. On the other hand, I don't think you ever used Android Auto, so you really don't know better and think CarPlay is a flawless system.  Most iPhone users have never tried Android Auto, so they really don't understand what they are missing in the car navigation and car virtual assistant with CarPlay and Siri. 
    edited February 2020 anantksundaram
  • Reply 15 of 86
    designr said:
    Curious, with Apple's angle on privacy, if they've ever considered buying DuckDuckGo and pouring enough resources into it to put a dent in Google's primary revenue/profit source.

    Apple Maps was started to avoid being too beholden to Google for a critical service/information capability. They also ditched Samsung on ARM for similar reasons.

    A move like that could be a strategic move.

    The only other thing that immediately comes to mind is for Apple to more seriously pursue the MVNO idea they allegedly considered when launching iPhone.
    The search engine business is hard, just ask Microsoft.  DuckDuckGo’s search results mostly comes from other search engines.  If Apple wanted to reinvent the wheel they’d be decades behind.  They’d need to spend a fortune and still probably wouldn’t be as good.

    Besides, currently Apple does nothing and gets paid. 

    Google will reportedly pay Apple $9 billion in 2018 and $12 billion in 2019 to remain as Safari's default search engine, according to Business Insider. The report comes courtesy of Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall.Sep 29, 2018”

    Microsoft Bing apparently generates  $7.5 in annual revenue.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 86
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 835member
    I think health and fitness are the obvious next stage service opportunities. There are hundreds of paid subscription apps for meditation, yoga, training, etc on the App Store. Apple could offer them all under one banner, leverage the popularity of the Apple Watch, and throw in the occasional celebrity guest leading a live class. Home workouts are one of the fastest growing trends in fitness right now, and Apple would have no problem cashing in on it. $4.99 or $9.99 a month? It wouldn’t matter. Such a service would surpass Apple News+ on day one. 
    Just my opinion. 
    SpamSandwichlolliverBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 86
    robjnrobjn Posts: 263member
    Apple should create a web development platform.

    This would:
    1) allow any iPad or Mac App to also be a web based app with minimum extra work.
    2) allow designers to build websites with Swift and Swift UI
    3) allow anyone to easily build and publish a website with high quality templates
    4) offer hosting
    5) offer a high quality and easy to implement e-commerce solution

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 86
    Apple Tracker Tags will be their next thing. Hopefully they will be wirelessly chargeable. Surprisingly the article skips this despite the proof of its existence.
  • Reply 19 of 86
    robjn said:
    Apple should create a web development platform.

    This would:
    1) allow any iPad or Mac App to also be a web based app with minimum extra work.
    2) allow designers to build websites with Swift and Swift UI
    3) allow anyone to easily build and publish a website with high quality templates
    4) offer hosting
    5) offer a high quality and easy to implement e-commerce solution

    That market is saturated already and there are many services for that. Apple backed out of it. 
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 20 of 86
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,631member
    robjn said:
    Apple should create a web development platform.

    This would:
    1) allow any iPad or Mac App to also be a web based app with minimum extra work.
    2) allow designers to build websites with Swift and Swift UI
    3) allow anyone to easily build and publish a website with high quality templates
    4) offer hosting
    5) offer a high quality and easy to implement e-commerce solution

    Interestingly a swift Webassembly initiative driven by Apple staff is close to a functional release.
    Add years of work on interface for web apps via iCloud editions would be surprised if there wasn't a "Catalyst for the browser" test project already going on in Apple. Gives them a single storefront to make money out of apps. 
    tmaywatto_cobra
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