Apple Inc. is reportedly working on a hardware subscription service that would allow users to obtain devices such as iPhones on a monthly basis.
Mark Gurman at Bloomberg broke the news, saying that the service would make the process of buying an iPhone or iPad on par with paying for iCloud storage or an Apple Music subscription each month. Under the proposal, which is still under development, customers would subscribe to Apple hardware with the same Apple ID and App Store account they use to buy and subscribe to services today.
Apple already offers the ability for users to pay for an iPhone monthly through the iPhone Upgrade Program, where the user pays the phone off over 24 months with the option to upgrade the device after 12 months. This proposal differs because it is more akin to an auto-leasing program.
According to Gurman, the program would differ from an installment program in that the monthly charge would not be the price of the device split across 12 or 24 months. Instead, the program would be a monthly fee that depends on which device the user chooses.
Details are still being worked on, with Apple said to be discussing allowing users of the program to swap out their devices for new models when fresh hardware comes out.
The program has been under discussion for several months but has been put on the back burner to launch a “buy now, pay later” service, Gurman’s sources claim. However, the subscription service is still expected to go ahead with a launch towards the end of this year, or possibly early 2023.
The subscription program could also be attached to Apple One bundles and AppleCare technical support plans.
Gurman claims that subscriptions would likely be managed through a user’s Apple account on their devices, through the App Store, or on the company’s website. There could also be the option at checkout both in Apple’s online store and at retail locations.
The benefits of a subscription plan would be to make it simpler to manage than payments to a carrier or even installment plan options. Although no price has been discussed, given that the payments will not be a straight split over 12 or 24 months, it could be cheaper for users while also bringing in additional cash flow and customers for Apple.
Investors responded positively to the report, with Apple’s share price closing the day up more than 2%.