Apple News+ is a Hard Sell

Apple’s new subscription news service’s growth is stalling. The service added few subscribers since its launch in March of 2019.

By Chand Bellur

November 17, 2019 at 6:28 p.m. PDT

What is Apple News+?

Apple launched a free news service in 2015 known as Apple News. The service partnered with major publications to offer news and magazine articles in a proprietary format.

Adhering to the “freemium” business model, Apple launched Apple News+, offering access to 300 different newspapers and magazines for a $9.99 monthly subscription fee.

Apple News+ was a modest success at launch. The subscription news service added 200,000 subscribers in only 48 hours. That may seem like a lot of customers, however, with a billion iOS users, it’s clear that few were interested in the service.

Apple News+ Subscriptions Plateaued Shortly After Launch

After a rather weak opening, Apple News+ saw little growth in subscribers. In fact, subscriptions have effectively leveled off. For every new subscriber, another cancels the service.

Apple offers no explanation as to why this is happening. One can speculate that, with an abundance of free, online news, Apple News+ simply wasn’t necessary. Furthermore, most digital device users are comfortable getting their news from the web, Twitter, or other freely available sources.

Apple May Bundle Apple News+ with Other Services

Given lackluster traction, Apple must pivot in order to correct Apple News+. If people won’t pay for the service on its own, bundling it with other services could attract consumers.

Rumors suggest that Apple will bundle Apple News+ with both Apple TV+ and Apple Music. With the former only costing $4.99 per month, existing Apple News+ subscribers are getting a much better deal.

The strategy provides a way of saving face in the midst of failure. If Apple were to simply lower the price of Apple News+, it would seem like a poor quality product. Consumers still wouldn’t subscribe and the move would attract negative media attention.

Bundling Apple News+ with other products enables Apple to report positive growth from a formerly struggling service. The move is more about placating investors and brand polishing than driving for direct profitability.

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