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Apple as a Service: What Apple One could mean for the biggest company in tech

Combining News+, Music, TV+ and iCloud could be good for all those services, and scary for competitors.

Apple as a Service: What Apple One could mean for the biggest company in tech

There's one possible path for Apple One that eventually includes almost everything the company makes.

Image: Apple

Apple has always understood the appeal of a bundle. It bundles hardware and software; sells millions of songs in a single subscription; charges credit cards only periodically to save on fees. Even Apple's retail stores are a bundle, if you squint a little.

With Apple One, Apple's getting even deeper into all things bundle. For individuals, it's $14.95 a month and includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and iCloud storage. The Family plan costs $19.95 a month and includes more users and more iCloud storage. For $29.95 a month in some countries, there's also the Premier package, which includes the new Fitness+ service and Apple News+, both of which cost $9.99 a month on their own.

Apple framed Apple One as both a cost-saving mechanism and a way for people to discover new services. Apple Music has 60 million paid customers, for instance, and for only a small extra charge, Apple can now try to get those people playing games in Arcade and using iCloud instead of Dropbox. And for less than the price of a monthly Peloton membership, users can get Fitness+ plus all of Apple's other services.

There's one possible path for Apple One that eventually includes almost everything the company makes. For one monthly price, users would get occasionally updated iPhones, iPads, Watches and Macs; subscriptions to Apple Music, TV+, News+, Arcade and more; iCloud storage; and an Apple Card for purchasing everything else. The bundle, investors and analysts argue, would keep people locked into their subscriptions — and thus Apple's ecosystem — for even longer, and help expose them to Apple's new services.

This is not an outlandish future. As Cook pointed out on a 2019 earnings call, Apple's upgrade programs already accomplish some of the same goal. "In terms of hardware as a service or as a bundle, if you will, there are customers today that essentially view the hardware like that because they're on upgrade plans and so forth," he said. "So to some degree that exists today. My perspective is that will grow in the future to larger numbers. It will grow disproportionately." Apple Card owners can already pay for their Apple gear in installments, too, which is not far off from hardware as a service already.

Bundling is also a bit of a trend in Big Tech. The best-case bundle scenario comes from Amazon, which has turned Prime from a free-shipping subscription to a way to get music, movies, books, groceries and photo prints. More than 100 million people in the U.S. now use Prime. Meanwhile, Microsoft is building Microsoft 365 into a similar bundle, with Windows and Office but also services from Adobe, Headspace and others. Google also launched Google One, "one membership to get more out of Google," though that hasn't yet expanded beyond storage and customer service.

Of course, the more Apple bundles the more those bundles are likely to come under antitrust scrutiny. The more deeply it locks people into its ecosystem, the more it upsells users into more-expensive and expansive bundles, the more the competitors left on the outside will complain, and the more powerful Apple's walled garden will look. Spotify said as much in a statement on Tuesday: "Once again, Apple is using its dominant position and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers by favoring its own services."

There's no doubt that Apple One is a key part of how Apple understands its future. The question, as ever, will be which — if any — of Apple's services are enticing enough to get people into the bundle in the first place. So far, Music is the most obvious success, but as more shows come to TV+ and more people get started with Fitness+, those could grow, too. And offering the equivalent of Spotify and Netflix (and more), for roughly the cost of one of those services, is likely to be a compelling sell. It gives Apple more recurring revenue, locks customers even deeper into its hardware, and pushes Apple ever closer to being the one bill people need to pay every month to get everything they need. And if Apple can get there, it'll be nearly unbeatable.

Protocol | Workplace

The pay gap persists for Black women

"The pay gap is a multifaceted problem and any time you have a complex problem, there's not a single solution that's going to solve it."

For every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Black women are paid just 63 cents, according to the American Community Survey Census data.

Photo: Christine/Unsplash

Last year's racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd led many tech companies to commit to promoting equity within their organizations, including working toward pay equity. But despite efforts, the wage gap for Black women still persists. For every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Black women are paid just 63 cents, according to the American Community Survey Census data.

Black Women's Equal Pay Day on Tuesday represents the estimated number of days into the year it would take for Black women to make what their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts made at the end of the previous year, according to the organization Equal Pay Today. And while the responsibility to fix the pay gap falls mostly on companies to rectify, some female employees have taken matters into their own hands and held companies to their asserted values by negotiating higher pay.

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Amber Burton

Amber Burton (@amberbburton) is a reporter at Protocol. Previously, she covered personal finance and diversity in business at The Wall Street Journal. She earned an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and B.A. in English and Journalism from Wake Forest University. She lives in North Carolina.

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What comes to mind when you think of AI? In the past, it might have been the Turing test, a sci-fi character or IBM's Deep Blue-defeating chess champion Garry Kasparov. Today, instead of copying human intelligence, we're seeing immense progress made in using AI to unobtrusively simplify and enrich our own intelligence and experiences. Natural language processing, modern encrypted security solutions, advanced perception and imaging capabilities, next-generation data management and logistics, and automotive assistance are some of the many ways AI is quietly yet unmistakably driving some of the latest advancements inside our phones, PCs, cars and other crucial 21st century devices. And the combination of 5G and AI is enabling a world with distributed intelligence where AI processing is happening on devices and in the cloud.

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Tech company hybrid work policies are becoming more flexible, not less

Twitter, LinkedIn and Asana are already changing their hybrid policies to allow for more flexibility.

Photo: FG Trade/Getty Images

Twitter, LinkedIn and Asana are all loosening up their strategies around hybrid work, allowing for more flexibility before even fully reopening their offices.

In the last week and a half, Twitter announced it's adopting an asynchronous-first approach, and both Asana and LinkedIn said they would increase the amount of time their employees can work remotely.

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Activision Blizzard scrambles to repair its toxic image

Blizzard President J. Allen Brack is the first executive to depart amid the sexual harassment crisis.

Activision Blizzard doesn't seem committed to lasting change.

Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Getty Images

As Activision Blizzard's workplace crisis rages on into its third week, the company is taking measures to try to calm the storm — to little avail. On Tuesday, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack, who took the reins at the developer responsible for World of Warcraft back in 2018, resigned. He's to be replaced by executives Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who will co-lead the studio in a power-sharing agreement some believe further solidifies CEO Bobby Kotick's control over the subsidiary.

Nowhere in Blizzard's statement about Brack's departure does it mention California's explosive sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit at the heart of the saga. The lawsuit, filed last month, resulted last week in a 500-person walkout at Blizzard's headquarters in Irvine. (Among the attendees was none other than Ybarra, the new studio co-head.)

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Protocol | Workplace

Alabama Amazon workers will likely get a second union vote

An NLRB judge said that Amazon "usurped" the NLRB by pushing for a mailbox to be installed in front of its facility, and also that the company violated laws that protect workers from monitoring of their behavior during union elections.

An NLRB judge ruled that Amazon has violated union election rules

Image: Amazon

Bessemer, Alabama warehouse workers will likely get a second union vote because of Amazon's efforts to have a USPS ballot box installed just outside of the Bessemer warehouse facility during the mail-in vote, as well as other violations of union vote rules, according to an NLRB ruling published Tuesday morning.

While union organizers, represented by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, lost the first vote by more than a 2:1 margin, a second election will be scheduled and held unless Amazon successfully appeals the ruling. Though Amazon is the country's second-largest private employer, no unionization effort at the company has ever been successful.

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