Is Apple Becoming the New Amazon?

In spite of the headline-grabbing presentation at Apple announcing the new credit card, gaming service, news, and TV services, yesterday’s mega-presentation at the Steve Jobs theater left a few analysts puzzled and underwhelmed. After only a modest bump in Apple’s stock after markets closed, and others wondering about some of the crucial details (like pricing) for its services, it seems that some were wondering what the #AppleEvent meant, and more importantly, what it will mean in the future. And it’s true: at first glance, it is a little bit confusing. It seems like yesterday that Apple CEO Tim Cook was in dark, elegant suits calling on governments to lead the charge on data privacy. The next thing you know, he is emceeing a star-studded event with an easy smile and dad jeans. It is understandable not to immediately know what to make of the tech giant’s apparent trajectory.

Fortunately for everyone, Oprah was on hand to deliver one of the most concise and memorable lines of the afternoon: “[Apple is] in a billion pockets, y’all. A billion pockets.” Of course, she’s right. Most of Apple’s revenue last quarter came from the iPhone. So this may mean that Apple is leveraging this crucial data point to launch it’s an impressive rollout of subscription services. This was made apparent during the gaming portion of the presentation: turning a phone into a gaming console is a forward-thinking idea, demonstrating that Apple is thinking of more ways to deliver a fully immersive content experience in as many mediums as possible.

This approach makes both business and intuitive sense, something Apple is consistently known for. Speaking as a person that is (just barely) under thirty, most, if not all, of my life is on my iPhone. Everything from social media, to banking, to news and entertainment is something I consume on my iPhone through an app. It sounds like a centralized system, but it really isn’t, not at the micro level. I often spend precious, frustrating seconds toggling between apps, updating them, and scrolling in search of content to consume. Often, after several minutes getting the run around and coming up against various paywalls, I reach for my credit card with a resigned sigh. It would make my life infinitely easier to have a credit card, news, and television all in one place for a frictionless experience. And judging by the excited whoops that came from the audience during the presentation, I suspect I was not alone in this feeling.

Apple seems to have embarked a new chapter in its history—instead of focusing on shiny designs that dazzle, Apple has pivoted to a customer-obsessed model that presents a smorgasbord of content, customized and available with a thumbprint (or facial recognition, depending on the model of the Apple product that you use.) Usually, a transaction takes place after an experience concludes, but Apple is making payment increasingly painless. Like getting your hand stamped before walking into a night club for an evening of dancing and drinks, you pay upfront and enjoy the experience, with the most awkward interaction behind you. And that is the experience that Apple seems to be trying to provide with these new subscription services. No fumbling for a credit card, no booting up an Xbox to watch TV, no selecting a movie only to find out that channel isn’t included in your cable subscription that is overcharging you at is. With this new model, consumers can feel less like targets being squeezed for money and more like a person who can embark on a choose-your-own entertainment story. Your move, Google.

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