The Upgrade

We Still Have a Ton of Questions About Apple’s ‘Services’ Pivot

A very long event was short on concrete details

Lance Ulanoff
Published in
6 min readMar 26, 2019

RRemember Monday well: It’s when Apple unabashedly shoved its services business into the spotlight, prioritizing content over the hardware the company has built its name and hundreds of billions of dollars in value on. It’s a smart move, because those service pockets are filled with money.

Services, which include things like the iOS App Store and iTunes, were a $5 billion business for Apple in 2015. Now, they account for well over $10.9 billion and climbing. Revenue from iPhone sales is still much larger, but Apple’s no longer breaking out specific iPhone unit sales numbers as it struggles with a flattening handset market. Services is growing by double digits almost by the quarter, and the iPhone — long Cupertino’s crown jewel — is not.

The future is services, and the key to that future is your propensity to pay Apple for every one of them. But the company hasn’t filled in key details — like, say, cost — about many of the products it announced at Monday’s Show Time event in California.

And there were many. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • News+: Apple’s magazine and newspaper subscription service includes 300-plus publications, though there are noticeable absences, like The New York Times. It also includes some popular newsletters — I see you, The Skimm.
  • Apple Card: Apple’s own digital (and physical!) credit card
  • Apple Arcade: A custom gaming platform full of exclusive games that you and your kids can play on any iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV
  • Apple TV app revamp: With the option of adding individual premium channels at any time without the need for a separate app or bundle
  • Apple TV+: Apple’s rather uninspiring name for its upcoming streaming app, where you’ll find a dizzying array of fresh, home-grown content from everyone from Steven Spielberg to Chris Evans to Alfre Woodard to Oprah Winfrey

In some instances, Apple dug deep into the details of pricing and availability. News+ is $9.99 a month for all-you-can-eat content from magazines like The New Yorker and Vanity Fair and…



Lance Ulanoff

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.