Apple made its formal leap into the Great Entertainment Semi-Finals yesterday, with an eye-catching, unApple-y low price. Has Apple ever charged five dollars for anything? Isn’t it beneath the dignity of the pristine Apple brand to even stoop to accept five dollars? In the time it takes them to process a five-dollar payment, it could be inventing an automatically disinfecting set of Air Pods.
It is sort of bowing to reality though that if you’re entering a crowded market with just a handful of shows and no back catalog, “Don’t you know who we are!?” isn’t quite enough to propel you to premium pricing.
Having come in at five bucks, Apple has now made it pretty much pain-free to sign up. If you’re a Reese Witherspoon fan, if you liked the Dickinson trailer, if don’t know the history of Amazing Stories and so you think that sounds like a fun idea . . . then for five bucks, why not check it out?
Also note, as an Ankler friend pointed out, “You get it free with a new device, and Apple sells 300 million new devices a year.”
Will Apple’s subscribers will stick around? Well, that depends on what Zack and Jamie make and how much people like it—a statement that incidentally could be made about every subscription service. Netflix used to like to say that it only needed you to like one new thing a month to keep you around. Churn may soon be measured in an even shorter increment.
Suddenly between Apple’s 300 million, HBO’s 140 million for starters, and however many tens of millions sign up for Disney Plus . . . Netflix’s 150 million still looks nice, but nothing like inevitable total domination of the Semi-Finals.
Which to be clear, is the entire premise of its business model. The Netflix Drunken Sailor Era (NDSE) fiscal policy makes no sense if you’re one of a bunch of services competing for talent, subscribers, and in some distant far-off era, profitability. There has never been a business model that I’m aware of where in a crowded sector, one company can compete indefinitely with a strategy of pretending money grows on trees.
The NDSE was about knocking the competition out of the Semi-Finals before they could get in: establishing a position so dominant that no one else dared enter the race.
That didn’t work out. Every day makes it more apparent how flawed that strategy was, even as every media outlet on earth hailed it (and continues to hail it) as a paradigm-busting miracle.
So how long until some Dan Loeb-type activist investor sends Reed a letter telling him that the company is undervalued because of its mismanagement and offer some helpful tips along with its now large holding in NFLX to make sure he’s paying attention. In other words, Hey, genius. What now?
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THE AWARDS SEASON HYPERVENTILATION OF THE WEEK!
NICK CAGE TAKES TIFF!