Adobe and Microsoft have annual subscription plans for Creative Suite and Office, so why not have a subscription plan for OS X, iTunes Music Store, the App Store, too? This idea might have some legs.
Apple As Banker
For the most part, Apple has resisted the monthly or annual subscription model in the iTunes Store, giving customers instead the pleasure of owning what they buy (whatever ownership means in the digital age).
Meanwhile, the subscription model continues to grow in usage. A number of online music services offer a monthly music subscription that competes with iTunes.
Pay monthly and have access to millions of songs. Stop paying and that’s the day the music dies (with apologies to Don McLean).
The handwriting must be on the wall because Adobe has a subscription plan for their highly popular Creative Suite. Now, Microsoft has joined the subscription party of a $100 price tag on an annual rental of the nearly ubiquitous Microsoft Office.
Retail giant Walmart, ever the trend setter, has begun selling an unlocked iPhone 5, and will make the phone available in a monthly payment option along with the StraightTalk plan ($45 a month, unlimited talk, data, and text).
Clearly, there’s a growing trend to pay for our gadgets on a monthly plan. U.S. cell phone carriers have essentially loaned customers the money for years to buy new smartphones every couple of years.
The Subscription Model
How many banks in the world have access to the kind of cash that Apple has sitting around (about $140-billion)? Apple can afford to move the Mac, iPhone, and iPad into a subscription model.
Think about the advantages. For one low monthly payment, you get a new Mac (for one, two or three years; depending upon the payment). All upgrades are free for the life of the subscription.
Put a somewhat similar but more aggressive plan into effect for unlocked iPhones and iPads. One monthly payment, and free upgrades to new models each year (or, two or three) come with the subscription.
The subscription model could be extended to the Mac App Store and the iTunes App Store (as well as music, TV shows, and movies). Pay a monthly subscription fee and gain access to x-number of applications for your Apple device. Stop paying the monthly subscription and the device and the apps stop working.
Ok, that seems a bit drastic, and the details probably need to be worked out, but I’m sensing that the trend of the future is subscribing, not owning. It works for music. It works for software. What’s to prevent it from working with hardware, too?