The latest trend in consumer software is the subscription plan. Adobe has it with Photoshop Creative Cloud. Microsoft has it with Office 365. Apple has stepped into the subscription model with both iPhone and Music.
Hardware has gone rental and lease subscription, too. Businesses have been leasing equipment for decades to keep costs within budget. Consumers can get a new car every few years thanks to attractive lease programs. Apple is moving in that direction, too.
Pay By The Month
Apple has an iPhone Upgrade Program which lets you get a new iPhone every year and pay by the month. That’s a lease rental program if I ever saw one. Majors cell phone carriers in the U.S. have similar programs which are separate from the monthly cell phone plans, which, just a year or so ago, embedded the price of a new iPhone within the monthly plan itself.
Those days are not completely gone but it’s obvious that cell phone carriers prefer you to buy your phone rather than act as a bank or credit card, but all major carriers have special programs which allow you to get a cell phone plan and get a new iPhone (or, Samsung Galaxy whatever) every year or two.
Apple By The Month
That’s what I want. Pay by the month and get a new Apple product– Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch– every year or two or three; my choice.
It can’t be that hard. Every Apple product has a residual or used value after a year or two, usually based upon the model and the condition. Applying Apple Care to every rental-lease product would ensure that users would turn in a working product at the end of the agreed-to rental-lease period.
Think about that situation. The way it works for most of us these days is that our used Apple products go in one of two directions.
First, hand-me-downs. That’s right. When my Mac is ready to be replaced I don’t head to eBay or Craiglist. I check the family tree and find a deserving relative, often of the younger persuasion, but not always, who would appreciate ownership of a well-cared for Mac. I do the same with iPad and iPhone. My only caveat is that I won’t provide support once I hand over the device. That’s the price of free.
Second, sell the device. That’s what Wil does and ditto for many of my Apple-loving, Mac-iPhone-iPad friends do. They clean up the device, re-install a new OS, and put an ad on Craiglist, eBay or wherever else happens to be a good outlet to fetch a higher price tag for used equipment.
An Apple Upgrade Program that extends to Mac, iPad, Watch, and future devices might put a crimp in the hand-me-down routine, or the eBay and Craigslist sales, but it would get me a new device more frequently, and that’s what I’m after.
What would Apple do with all those one, two, or three year old Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Watches? What is Apple doing with the iPhone Upgrade Program iPhones? Likely, they’re being refurbished and repackaged and made available to under developed or emerging countries.
Think about this. Apple sells the MacBook Air at full retail and it’s a product that is years old already. What makes up the bottom of the iPhone line? The three year old iPhone 5s. So, it’s not that Apple doesn’t know how to distribute used products. Apple has even used eBay to reduce inventory of discontinued models.
What would Apple’s monthly fee be for an iPad? Probably less than an iPhone which usually is priced higher than an iPad. What about a Mac? That would depend upon the length of the rental-lease agreement, but upgrading every three years would cost less per month than upgrading every year.
This is an idea whose time has come. If we lease cars, pay a monthly subscription for Apple Music, cable TV, Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Office, and a growing number of apps and services, why not use a Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch by the month?