Apple's new subscription services may be off to a slower than expected start

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Some analysts are raising concerns that Apple's 2019 slate of services are off to a slower start than originally anticipated, but how much that may impact Thursday's earnings isn't clear.

In March 2019, Apple launched four new premium Services offerings: Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and Apple Card. In the year since they launched, Bernstein estimates that they haven't added much to Apple's top line.

According to Bloomberg, Apple's Services revenue is expected to grow to $13.1 billion in the third quarter of 2020. That's up 15% year-over-year, but data shows the majority of the growth came from existing services.

That growth may be relative, however. Apple TV+, which launched in November, is expected to bring in $2.5 billion in 2020 per Bernstein's revenue models. During this period, Apple TV+ was available for free for Apple users that purchased new hardware, including the $169 Apple TV, and $199 iPod touch.

Apple TV+ has had its own successes, with a handful of its shows winning nominations or awards.

Services revenue is also a combined sector of Apple's business — the company doesn't break down the sector into specific subscriptions. More than that, the company's slate of Services are already contributing to Apple's continued market outperformance even during coronavirus, and are likely to continue to grow.

In the first half of 2020, for example, the App Store generated $32.8 billion for developers — up 20% year-over-year. Apple also recently highlighted a report suggesting that the marketplace generated half a trillion in total commerce for businesses.

Some of the 2019 Services have had a rockier start than others, however. In February, Apple News' head of business stepped down. In June, the New York Times said it would leave the free Apple News platform.

The App Store has also generated controversy among some developers, and Apple CEO Tim Cook is set to testify before Congress about whether its App Store policies are snuffing out competition.

Apple does appear to be identifying the sticking points and taking steps to resolve them. In late June, the company was said to be shifting its Apple Arcade strategy to focus on engagement. It has also offered new free trials for Apple Arcade and Apple News+ to users who had subscriptions but canceled them.

In the meantime, Apple's Services sector is still reliant on established platforms like the App Store and licensing deals, which are forecast to bring in about $25 billion for the Cupertino tech giant in the June quarter.

Apple is set to announce its Q3 2020 earnings results on a conference call with investors and analysts at 2 p.m. Pacific (5 p.m. Eastern) on Thursday, July 30.

 

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