Why Apple’s subscription service is a sneaky bid to rip off consumers

Apple core, December 2005 by Martin Cathrae

Did you buy an iPhone 6 recently? Perhaps with some hard earned cash you’ve been saving up? Well fuck you.

That, at least, is the message from Apple.

At their huge press event in California yesterday, the company unveiled a smorgasbord of new products: new iPhones, the new iPad Pro, a new Apple TV and iOS 9. But the most audacious and disgusting release was a US only (for now) subscription service. For $32 (£21) a month, Apple will deliver you a shiny new iPhone every year.

Let me put that in perspective for you: The iPhone 6s Plus, Apple’s expensive flagship mobile phone, will launch at $299. If, like a capitalist zombie, you got rid of that $299 phone after a year, it would have cost you $24.91 a month, some $7.09 less than Apple’s subscription service.

Essentially, Apple’s subscription service will charge you 30 percent more than if you bought a new phone every year.

Of course, defenders of the scheme will tell you that you get Apple Care+ thrown in for free. However, with each phone lasting you just a year, standard warranty and your consumer rights should easily cover any faults you might come across.

This strategy is an example of planned obsolescence being used to rob consumers – the biggest money-making tactic big companies have. It’s what causes your car to break down, your computer to stop working and your clothes to fall apart. Companies ensure that their products will fail or break, so that you have to buy a replacement.

The practice goes at least as far back as 1924. At a secret meeting in Geneva, the leading manufacturers of light bulbs devised an agreement that established what’s known as the Phoebus Cartel. In the cartel, light bulb manufacturers agreed to reduce the lifetime of bulbs in a bid to sell more of them, agreeing that all parties would benefit from making light bulbs which broke.

Nearly a century later, planned obsolescence has become the dominant means by which industries make profit.

Think about it: When did you last buy a product that lasted years without either breaking or needing repair? We have the technology to make items capable of withstanding deep sea and space exploration – do you really think it’s impossible to make more products that don’t break?

As such this shift to a subscription model should make us ask where it all stops. Do you think it’ll just be Apple? Or do you think, in an unlikely bid to make obscene amounts of money, that you might soon need to pay subscriptions for new Playstations, televisions or even pairs of jeans?

No doubt fanboys are already tweeting: “#WTF?! Apple are cool and trendy! They’d never rip us off!”

But would they?

Image Credit – Apple core, December 2005 by Martin Cathrae

1 Comment

  1. This article doesn’t have the facts straight. The iPhone isn’t releasing at $199, or $299… it’s a $649/$749 phone. The “$200 iPhone” was always a fake subsidized price that you payed for via hidden costs as a part of a two year contract. Thankfully carriers are for the most part doing away with that particular scam to at least expose people as to how much they are paying for a phone. The apple subscription service still isn’t a good deal, but its not nearly as dramatic a difference as $299 vs $37.45 a month.

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