Apple Intelligence Could Eventually Have a Paid Tier

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One of the best things about Apple’s new AI initiative isn’t just the many cool new features it will offer but also the fact that it won’t charge extra for any of them — at least not right away.

When Apple unveiled Apple Intelligence at last month’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), it highlighted everything from a much smarter Siri to advanced writing and image generation tools, all of which will be included in iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia at no extra cost beyond the hardware needed to run them.

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For Mac and iPad users, that’s a reasonably low bar, as any device with an M-series chip will be able to handle everything that Apple Intelligence can do. That includes every Mac released since late 2020 and the iPad Pro and iPad Air models that have come along since early 2021. Sadly, iPhone owners will have a slightly higher cost of entry — an iPhone 15 Pro or later is the requirement — but that’s still a one-time purchase, and Apple Intelligence is far from the only reason to upgrade to a newer iPhone model.

Nevertheless, the key point is that there are no monthly subscription fees. Unlike OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini, everyone will get Apple’s best generative AI model (whatever that is) for the same monthly price: zero.

Unfortunately, that may not always be the case. As Apple aims to grow its services business, the day could come when we see an “Apple Intelligence+”
paid tier for those who want more from the generative AI features.

It’s not entirely clear what form this will take, but Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman believes it’s coming. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman notes that Apple’s long-term plan is to create a subscription plan for Apple Intelligence that will offer extra features for those willing to pay:

There’s an opportunity to turn AI features and other software into paid services, but it will take time. Though Apple Intelligence will be free to start, the long-term plan is to make money off the capabilities. The company could eventually launch something like “Apple Intelligence+” — with extra features that users pay monthly fees for, just like iCloud. Mark Gurman

Since Apple likes to keep things as straightforward as possible, it’s more likely to market these as tangible features rather than the nebulous concept of more complex AI models. That will also help differentiate it from OpenAI and Google, both of which have taken the approach of merely charging for “smarter AI.”

Gurman adds that Apple is aiming to get a cut of what iPhone users pay when subscribing to services like ChatGPT through Apple Intelligence. That’s likely already part of its deal with OpenAI; while the two companies aren’t exchanging any cash for the partnership, any new subscriptions to ChatGPT Pro, which start at $20/month, are processed through Apple’s payment platform. This likely means Apple’s taking its standard 15–30% cut like it would for any other in-app subscription.

ChatGPT is expected to be only the first of several AI partners. Gurman says Apple is reportedly close to a deal with Google to add Gemini to the mix, and in March he also reported it was in talks with Anthropic. Apple will also need to find a local partner in China if it hopes to roll out Apple Intelligence there. So far, the only potential partnership it’s walked away from is Meta, reportedly because it felt it was a substandard choice, especially where privacy is concerned.

Even if a paid Apple Intelligence tier is in the cards, it’s likely to be a long way off. It will take until next year before we see all the AI features Apple has already announced. In the meantime, the company is hoping that Apple Intelligence will kick off a “supercycle” of iPhone upgrades as folks rush to the latest models to try out the new features.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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