We have a limited amount of hours each day. We spend 6-8 of them asleep, another 7-8 working, and what remains is “leisure time”. We choose to spend that time in a variety of ways.
We can spend it with our families, trying out that new recipe we saw on the NYT Cooking newsletter, reading that book we just bought on our Kindle, immersing ourselves with the mega collection of TV shows and movies on Netflix, or spend time tending to our farms on Stardew Valley.
In a world in which these avenues for leisure are endless in the digital era, we find ourselves faced with the paradox of choice when it comes to content-consumption. Apple’s introduction of 3 new services during their special event this week is a side-effect of this abundance, combined with the near-zero distribution costs of the internet.
Here’s the TL;DR on what they all do:
- Apple News+: a $9.99/mo. subscription service that grants you access to hundreds of magazines and newspapers directly from Apple News.
- Apple TV+: a series of original content produced by Apple that you can subscribe for access on the Apple TV app.
- Apple Arcade: An upcoming subscription that makes a bundle of games available for free with no ads or IAPs.
I will like to draw today’s focus to Apple Arcade and Apple News+; content-centric services that represent the world we live in today and the drift to subscription-style pricing.
Abundance combined with time constraints demands curation — you see this manifest with the rise of email newsletters, Spotify’s hand-curated playlists, and Twitter/Instagram’s shift to aggregated timelines. Throw financial constraints into the mix and you see the emergence of websites like The Wirecutter, The Sweet Setup, and Stitchfix. All of these shifts are poised to cut through noise and simplify decision-making.
Apple News+ and Apple Arcade are inventions of the time and financial constraints: you might not need all the games and publications the services provide, but you favour the convenience and optionality for $9.99 per month. What would have cost you orders of magnitude more is now affordable for a superior and aggregated experience.
With the emergence of these services at near-zero distribution costs combined with abundance, games and publishers are now increasingly being paid on a commodity basis. The only exception that remains are creators that have worked to establish direct-to-customer relationships. Some examples of this exception are The New York Times and the Washington Post for publishers, Blizzard and Electronic Arts for games.
Because of abundance, the trick to gaining the upper-hand is to establish and own the direct-to-customer relationships; combined with production of quality content that is worth paying upfront or subscribing to. A failure to adapt this way leaves a content-creator — regardless of size — vulnerable to being commodified in the age of abundance.