The so-called ‘streaming wars’ are a bruising experience for every company taking part in them. There are huge amounts of money to be made, but to earn that money, companies generally have to outspend their rivals in terms of promotion, out-innovate them in terms of products and features, and then undercut them in terms of price. It’s a great time to be a consumer with so many options available when it comes to entertainment, but it’s a time of cutthroat strategy and seat-of-your-pants strategy for the people who provide us with that entertainment. Whether we’re talking about music, television, or gaming, the streaming wars are well and truly on, and they’re not going anywhere soon.
Taking part in a single one of those wars would be enough for most companies, but Apple isn’t like most companies. It likes to dominate every market it’s involved in (to the extent that it’s currently being sued for anti-trust practices), but that isn’t slowing down what sometimes feels like the company’s grand plan to take over the world. Apple is taking part in all of those streaming wars at once with Apple TV in the television section, Apple Music for music fans, and Apple Arcade in the gaming section. At the moment, if you’re a hardcore Apple fan, that means three different subscriptions. That might not be the case for much longer. According to several sources, Apple is about to combine all three of those services into one single subscription package.
Right now, this new initiative is being referred to as ‘Apple One’ within the company, although that’s not necessarily the name the bundle will go by if and when it goes live, as is rumored, in October this year. There are even some suggestions that in addition to the three ‘core’ services described above, users might be able to pay a little more to gain access to Apple News Plus, and additional iCloud storage space. An October release would put the launch of ‘Apple One’ roughly in line with the next iPhone release, so we may even see ‘Apple One’ packaged together with iPhone purchases, thus pushing subscription prices even lower as more is added to the bundle. Given that iPhones sell in huge numbers, this has the potential to be devastating for Apple’s rivals if it proves to be true.
So far, the streaming wars have been conducted on a like-versus-like basis. Netflix has gone all out against Amazon Prime, for example, but hasn’t attempted to battle Spotify on the music front. Spotify is engaged in battle with Apple Music but hasn’t attempted to take on Apple Arcade or Google Stadia in the gaming stakes. What we’re seeing now, though, is more akin to what we’ve seen in battles between online slots websites in the gambling sector. When casinos first went online in the first years of the 21st century, the majority of them offered nothing more than online slots (hence the name). As more appeared, they attempted to compete with each other on discounts, introductory offers, and further features. These days the very best online slots websites also offer other UK casino like poker, blackjack, roulette, bingo, and anything else that their players might be interested in. In short, they’ve got ahead by expanding their offering without charging an increased admission price. It works for online slots websites, and it could very easily work for Apple.
For those who aren’t ‘in the know’ about what Apple’s services entail, hopefully the ‘music’ app is self-explanatory. Apple Arcade, however, is a video gaming platform with a strong focus on family-friendly games and ‘fun’ titles as opposed to the heavily cinematic and often adult-orientated games you might see on a PlayStation. Apple TV is not a competitor to Netflix. Instead, it offers buyers and subscribers access to services like Netflix, and should instead be compared to services like Google Chromecast, Roku, or Amazon’s Fire Stick. That being said, in more recent years the service has evolved and started creating and acquiring exclusive content, so Netflix shouldn’t consider itself to be safe from the talons of Apple’s ambitions just yet. The news service is much like any other premium news service, and the additional space on iCloud might prove useful to anyone who finds themselves constantly having to delete images from their phone because their friends have sent them too many auto-stored WhatsApp pictures.
The proposed ‘Apple One’ package probably looks like a tempting deal already for anybody who uses all or some of those services regularly, but it might get even better before launch day arrives. Another hot rumor coming out of Apple at the moment is that the company is working on a virtual fitness service, which might take the form of either a new app or an exclusive stream that can only be accessed on Apple products like iPhones, iPads, or of course the Apple TV service. Apple wouldn’t provide these virtual fitness classes itself, but would instead offer access to classes conducted by Joe Wicks, Peloton, and other well-known names within the fitness sector. Not everybody works out from home, but if you do, this might be another reason to watch Apple’s activities carefully in the next few weeks.
The only potential spanner in the works from Apple’s point of view is the anti-trust lawsuits they’re facing, one of the most prominent of which has been filed by Epic Games. The company feels that the Apple App Store is too restrictive and denies app creators and other companies the right to negotiate on price or use alternative services, and the matter appears to be heading to court. The company’s rivals in the streaming wars might take a similar view of this latest development, and step with attempts of their own to slow the company down or force them to change course. If history tells us anything, though, it’s that Apple generally finds a way forward when it wants to, and in any event, it’s hard to argue that a company shouldn’t be able to offer a discount to customers by packaging its own products together. The smart money says that ‘Apple One’ will go ahead if that’s what the company wants to do – and everyone else is going to have to find a way to respond to it.