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News+ poised to play a central role in Apple’s “most important product launch this year”

In just a couple of months, alongside the next iPhone line, Cupertino is expected to launch “its most important product ever.” 

It will be called Apple One, according to Mark Gurman at Bloomberg.

“Apple Inc. is readying a series of bundles that will let customers subscribe to several of the company’s digital services at a lower monthly price,” reports Mark, who has an excellent track record with leaks.

“The bundles are designed to encourage customers to subscribe to more Apple services, which will generate more recurring revenue.”

There has been talk of Apple’s plan to offer subscription bundles since at least 2018, and this June, code was found in iOS 13.5.5 that referred to both a “bundle offer” and “bundle subscription.” In 2019, the company also experimented with a bundle for students, and Bloomberg News reported then that Apple was targeting a comprehensive bundle launch in 2020.

Apple’s services segment is one of the company’s fastest growth areas and has become a $50 billion-a-year business. But the growth has recently hit a snag, making the time just right for Apple to play its next card.

“Apple’s fiscal third-quarter results showed that Apple’s newer services were off to a slow start in terms of gaining new subscribers,” says tech writer Steve Vegvari. “The introduction of Apple One could make a compelling case for users to sign up for additional services, allowing the respective services such as Apple TV+ and Apple News+ to gain the growth the company is looking for.”

While Apple TV+ has received massive celebrity push and has gone on to earn 19 Emmy Awards nominations, News+ hasn’t had a similar moment in the sun.

But all that is about to change.

In the last couple of months, there has been an explosion of activity in the Apple News universe, just after the hidden iOS codes were discovered, referring to “bundle offer” and “bundle subscription.”

Just last month, as part of the iOS 13.6 and macOS 10.15.6 updates, Apple introduced new features for its News+ subscription service, including audio stories.

Audio stories include audio versions of the best stories from ‌Apple News‌, and curated local news collections launching in five cities and regions.

Apple also launched its own daily news podcast—Apple News Today—a daily audio news briefing guiding listeners through some of the most fascinating stories in the news.

At the same time, Apple News introduced a new curated local news experience, featuring a variety of content from a diverse collection of local publishers. 

Local news collections in Apple News include coverage of topics most important to local communities, with curation by local Apple News editors as well as personalization for each user.

Apple News also went local in macOS Catalina.

And just this week, Scroll founder Tony Haile discovered how integral to the user experience Apple is planning to make News+, across both iOS and macOS, much to the chagrin of the publishing community.

Apple had already started including a provision in deals with publishers participating in News+ that said the service could eventually be bundled with other services. Apparently, this is the moment they have been planning for.

This massive push on the Apple News+ front is expected to culminate at Apple next major launch event, with the launch of Apple One. All the latest news initiatives will only bear fruit when the service has the subscribers to match, and Apple’s latest move will bring its entire user base into play

And as Oprah Winfrey made it abundantly clear, on the Cupertino stage…

They’re in a billion pockets, y’all. A billion pockets. 

Oprah Winfrey, on Apple devices

“By offering a subscription, Apple could potentially garner (even more) product loyalty and onboard users to try some of its services they might’ve otherwise ignored,” says TNW’s Napier Lopez.

“It’s much how Amazon subscribers might end up consuming Prime Video and Prime Music content even if they originally signed up to the service for the fast shipping.”

For years, analysts and investors have called for Apple to mimic Amazon’s Prime approach. Some of Apple’s newer services, including News+ and TV+, have started slowly. By bundling them at a discount with more popular services, usage and subscriptions could increase.

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg News

Apple caters to a premium audience segment, and having easy access to this user base with the potential to convert them to paid subscribers is something publishers on Apple News have looked forward to, admittedly without much in the way of tangible results.

But this audience, and Apple’s major initiatives with News, might make it worthwhile for publishers to stick around, especially with Apple One on the horizon.

Wall Street Journal seems to think so, and it’s sticking with Apple News because it brings a ‘genuinely different audience.’ According to the chief executive of News Corp, Robert Thomson, WSJ has no plans to end its Apple partnership. Thomson’s comments come a little over a month after The New York Times announced that it was ending its partnership with ‌Apple News‌.

Apple News‌ partnership allows us to focus on that tier of content and bring in a significantly new audience that we would hope to graduate to a paid WSJ subscription over time. And it is a genuinely different audience.

Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp

Apple, as Mark Gurman notes, has hundreds of millions of ardent hardware customers who have already embraced some of its digital subscriptions. The hotly anticipated Apple One services bundle may just be the break News+ has been waiting for. And it would be great for Apple’s bottom line too.

“As a bundle, Apple could easily add incremental revenue above and beyond with each iPhone sale,” says tech columnist Jason Aten. “This is exactly what Apple is counting on, and it’s why I think Apple One is the company’s most important product launch this year. Maybe even ever.”