Apple Prime? Here’s why it might be a great idea

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Would an Amazon Prime-style service work for Apple?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple should take a note out of Jeff Bezos’ playbook and launch an Amazon Prime-style subscription service, claims an analyst for Goldman Sachs.

“We think Apple should launch a subscription bundle as a way to reinforce iPhone loyalty and leverage it into content,” Simona Jankowski writes in a new note to clients. In the brief, Jankowski and colleagues ponder the potential of a $50 monthly subscription that would get customers the latest iPhone plus other services like Apple TV, Apple Music and freemium access to the iTunes library.

“We believe Apple could partner with national sports networks, such as ESPN, Fox Sports etc., and offer the content bundled through Apple Prime,” Jankowski continues. “While it would be beneficial for Apple and its consumers, we also see merit in this move for the sports networks, since it would help them position for an increasingly OTT future [i.e., video streamed over the internet], while maintaining the economics of the traditional pay TV bundle.”

It’s certainly an intriguing idea, even if it’s more rooted in “fantasy football”-style hypothesizing than anything Apple has actually shown a particular interest in doing. The Goldman Sachs note suggests doing this would let Apple set its products further apart from rival companies like Samsung, while competing with the likes of Amazon.

Apple services on the rise

To an extent, this is what Apple already does. Through its iPhone Upgrade Program, Apple basically lets users “subscribe” to the latest iPhone (even though many members in the program felt jilted when they weren’t top-of-the-list to get their new iPhone 7 handsets back in September).

And services like the App Store are viewed as drivers of hardware sales in the same way that Amazon Prime packs on “loss leaders” to drive Prime subscriptions.

Apple has previously experimented with its own in-house content production, both for ads and documentaries. In August, for example, the company signed a “power move” agreement with Cash Money Records — the label that brought fans Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Young Money and Birdman — to produce an exclusive documentary. It’s certainly not on a level with Netflix or Amazon yet, but it’s a start!

Ultimately, Goldman Sachs’ note is no more than wishful thinking at present, although Apple has been shifting its focus to services as iPhone sales tail off. Still, I’d certainly pay $50 per month if Apple was able to guarantee me the latest iPhone of my choice on launch day, alongside retooled music and TV packages.

What do you think of the idea? Leave your comments below.

Source: Bloomberg