Is Apple Still Working on a Services Bundle? (iOS 13.5.5 Says Yes)

Apple Music Apple TV Apple Arcade Apple New Super Bundle Credit: Apple
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In the months leading up to the unveiling of Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple News+ last year, many were certain that Apple was going to find some way to bundle these services together, and even when they were announced separately at Apple’s spring 2019 event, the hope remained that a bundle would be coming later on. Yet when Apple finally announced pricing for Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade in the fall, everything was a la carte.

While at this point the lack of a bundle has allowed Apple to do some things that might have been more complicated, such as offering a free year of Apple TV+ with the purchase of a new Apple device, it’s likely that this wasn’t Apple’s intent. In fact, it seems that the company has actually been looking for a way to bundle its services all along, but its having a hard time getting the music industry to buy into the idea, since of course it would change the way in which record labels get paid.

There have been numerous reports however that Apple is still quietly trying to negotiate a bundle deal behind the scenes with music and news publishers, and now new code found in the iOS 13.5.5 beta by 9to5Mac suggests that something could be appearing soon.

‘Bundle Offer’

The curious code jockeys at 9to5Mac found new references in the first iOS 13.5.5 beta released earlier this week to terms like “bundle offer” and “bundle subscription,” tied directly to the management system of Apple’s own services like Apple News+ —  a service which appears to be expanding in iOS 13.5.5 as well.

This suggests that Apple is laying the groundwork for a discount bundle for at least some of its services, although it’s not entirely clear how that may play out right now with the licensing deals that Apple has in place.

Most significantly, Apple renewed its multi-year deals with the music labels back in March, and according to sources familiar with the talks, there was no wiggle room in these renegotiated contracts for Apple to bundle Apple Music with any of its other offerings such as Apple TV+.

Of course, this wouldn’t preclude Apple from bundling its other services together, such as Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple News+, since it owns full rights to the first two, and generally seems to have a bit more leverage with news publishers than it does with the music industry. An Apple TV+ and Apple News+ bundle, in particular, might have a certain symbiosis to it, and now that Apple is planning on bringing audio news stories into the fold, it’s not hard to imagine that video could be next. This could also help the beleaguered service gain more subscribers by tying it into one of Apple’s more popular services.

We also still can’t rule out Apple Music forming part of a bundle, as Apple’s deal with the record labels doesn’t forbid it — it just means that Apple doesn’t get to pay them any less if it chooses to sell it as part of a bundle. However, Apple already did something like this with its Apple Music and Apple TV+ Student Bundle, where the company clearly noted that it was giving away the video streaming service at no charge for students who already subscribed to an Apple Music plan.

Still, the references in iOS 13.5.5 are especially noteworthy for their appearance in such a minor update, suggesting that Apple is definitely up to something, and that we’re likely to see it sooner rather than later, although it may be less than the full Digital Super Bundle that many have been hoping for.

[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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