The growing pains of Apple’s subscription addiction – TechCrunch

Hello friends and welcome back Weekly review!

Last week we talked about how YouTube has managed to skate while Facebook has been battered by platform liability issues. This week, we take a look at another slippery slope that Apple is dancing on to the edge.

If you are reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get it in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny


Image credits: TechCrunch

the big thing

After first reaching that trillion dollar valuation and then surpassing two trillion, Apple is probably well aware that it still has a long way to go to become the first billion dollar company and that ‘they’re going to have to make some controversial choices to get there. All kidding aside, Apple’s business is changing a bit as it reaches a mega-scale and the company is flirting with growth tactics that could be seen as bold and aggressive or a little over the top.

As Apple’s diversification of business moves from simply enticing consumers to buy new iPhones to purchasing Apple devices while locking them down to subscription software services on said devices, they are starting to become a little more aggressive than before.

This week, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney called Apple for placing ads in its Settings app for its own services, launching a criticism that Apple was not playing by its own rules. His complaint was probably intended to focus more on Apple’s anti-competition claim, but my first takeaway after seeing an advertisement for an Apple Music free trial in the Settings app was, “Fuck, Apple isn’t it a bit awkward? “

For a $ 2 trillion business, pushing consumers to buy something from the section of the app they usually go to when trying to fix something seems like a pretty embarrassing growth hack. Of course, this is only one ad space, an error, but the absence of spam and crapware has long been a hallmark of the Apple device ecosystem. Of course, over the years you might not have liked that their standard calculator or stock app came preinstalled, but that wasn’t too disturbing, but as Apple starts pushing paid subscription after paid subscription. with a diverse range of services including Music, News + tv +, Fitness +, Arcade, iCloud + and more, one begins to wonder where it all leads.

Apple is also starting to create more complex subscriber products that live outside of a single app; its iCloud + service now combines backups with more sophisticated privacy features in Safari only available to paid customers. Different levels of Apple One subscriptions bundle these services with discounts that can be shared with family members. And of course, from Sweeney’s point of view, this is all going to be very frustrating for developers trying to compete with a product that has the home court advantage in perpetuity, but it also leads to a less welcoming platform. for consumers who simply want devices that objectively deliver to the larger web and all of its stakeholders and services.

For a general warning, I’ll say that Apple is so heavily criticized for seemingly trivial things, as they’ve generally done a pretty solid job of streamlining positive consumer experiences with their devices, and consumers have also grown accustomed to seeing it. other companies let these little things snowball into misplaced incentives that slowly erode a product. That’s why seeing a few more promotional push notifications than normal or a seemingly misplaced ad or a few too many introductory offers when launching a new device raises red flags.

Turning Apple into a service company is certainly not a crime, but it’s important to realize that it likely requires a change in what their relationship with consumers basically looks like. We’re only starting to taste some of these changes today, but they could become much more noticeable on the road.


Image credits: NurPhoto / Getty Images

other things

I’ll be playing around with this section a bit over the next few weeks so it’s less cold summaries and more context… let me know on Twitter if this is your jam or if you prefer more headlines and less. bloviation 🙂

Twitch hack heralds future issues for game streaming hub
Amazon’s gaming-centric streaming service has had a pretty bad week, with hackers releasing a mine of source code and creator payment data. This is a pretty huge loss of competitiveness for Twitch and leaves Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming with a spreadsheet of data to point exclusive streamers on their platform. It’s also likely demoralizing for the streamer base, with streamers now being able to measure how much more some of their competitors are getting paid by the streaming giant.

Twitch’s outsized lead in the game streamer war has slowly diminished in large part thanks to the efforts of YouTube and Facebook to attract viewers. Twitch is still the default choice for many early career streamers, and YouTube and Facebook are way behind in this department. quite invaluable to them.

The horrible week of Facebook / Instagram / WhatsApp
Facebook is having a pretty tough few weeks, but this one has been nothing short of brutal. As the company waged a PR war on a whistleblower, the service suffered its most brutal outage in the past decade, shutting down all of the company’s global services and shattering its internal tools in the meantime. Everything was interrupted for several hours which resulted in a lot of confusion and frustration, especially for those users who depend so heavily on WhatsApp for their work or social life.

As I wrote last week, Facebook probably doesn’t deserve to be the only internet media platform to be universally dumped, but even with so much public anger, I feel like the leaders of the The company cannot see past the fact that they feel they are being treated unfairly and that they don’t even try to think it through. Facebook’s brand is in a fairly sustained state of disrepair at this point, but the idea that it could spill over to affiliates like Instagram should be a cause that executives and shareholders realize is too critical to ignore. significantly.

Paying real money for fake stocks from real startups
I can’t say this has as much of an impact as the two elements above, but I would be remiss if I did not rehash a saga I covered this week that really feels like showing where we are. are in this bull market. Visionrare, an NFT platform for “fancy investing in startups” was born earlier this week and I covered its launch with a fair amount of skepticism. It was basically a pitch for treating venture capital investing as a fantasy sport and getting people to compete against each other to create their own portfolio filled with synthetic NFT stocks of startups.

Many investors and entrepreneurs stepped in after my launch post and detailed all of the ways he was likely going to be sued, and it looks like the founders have been listening. Less than a day after the public beta launched, they closed the market, promising an eventual return with a free version. As full of money as the NFT market seems (and often is), many NFT project founders spend a tremendous amount of time discussing the mechanics with lawyers up front so they don’t face these tough choices. after launch. Speaking of funny money, this generative art piece sold for $ 6.9 million this week and this toad went for 420 ETH ($ 1.5 million), enjoy your weekend!


raining money illustration

Image credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

added things

Some of my favorite reads from our newly renamed TechCrunch + subscription service this week:

Global startups raised $ 158 billion in third quarter
“… Since the start of the second half of 2020 and as the venture capital and startup worlds discovered that COVID and its associated economic impacts were largely on the verge of missing out on the nascent tech market, the investors have been busy pumping ever larger amounts of money into new businesses around the world. The acceleration in the deployment of capital has generated more unicorns, more mega-towers and quite simply more dollars available than ever in the history of startups… ”

Get the details straight into your pitch deck
“… With each Disrupt, we have a session that we call Pitch Deck Teardown. It’s a friendly workshop where the founders from the audience send me their decks, and I walk through an organized set of them live in front of an exceptional VC panel, who review the deck slide by slide. This year at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021, we were joined by Maren Bannon, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of January companies; Vanessa Larco, partner at NEA; and Ben Ling, founder and general partner of Bling capital

Top VCs Explain How To Raise Your First Dollars
“… Nina Achadijan, Partner of Index Ventures, began by urging the founders to ask themselves first if they really needed to raise venture capital. “It’s a phenomenal time to be a start-up entrepreneur. There is more capital than ever and there is a willingness to accept technology from consumers and businesses, ”she said. “And frankly, there are a lot of platform changes that are very exciting for start-up entrepreneurs. But the first thing you need to do is ask yourself: do you really need to raise venture capital? There are so many amazing businesses that can be created that actually don’t need venture capital funding. ‘ “


Thanks for reading, and again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get it in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny

Lucas Matney




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